How R.I.C.E. Can Help You Heal Faster

You've likely heard the term R.I.C.E. when referring to an injury. R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Here's how to properly follow the R.I.C.E. protocol:

Step 1: Rest
Immediately following an injury, you should try to rest the affected area as much as possible. If you continue to use the injured area, you can delay the healing process, increase pain, or even make it worse.

Step 2: Ice
Use ice to help reduce the pain and swelling that typically occurs following an injury. You should ice the injured area for 20 minutes, every 3-4 hours. If you are using a gel ice pack, wrap it in a towel and avoid placing it directly on the skin.

Step 3: Compression
Using an elastic wrap or bandage immediately after an injury can help reduce swelling. When applying the wrap, make sure it is snug but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. Warning signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, swelling, and discoloration of the area above or below the bandage.

Step 4: Elevation
To help reduce swelling to the injured area, raise the body part above heart level. This will allow gravity to assist with moving fluids away from the injured area.

A common question is when to use ice versus heat during injury recovery. The answer depends on if you have a chronic or acute injury:

  • Chronic injuries have a gradual onset and sometimes do not have an associated injury. You can apply heat to a chronic injury for no more than 20 minutes before physical activity. Use ice along with the rest of the R.I.C.E. protocol after any exercise or activity that aggravates your injury.
  • Acute injuries happen suddenly and are usually associated with trauma. Use ice along with the rest of the R.I.C.E. protocol after your initial injury and after any exercise or activity that aggravates your injury.

If you continue to have pain following an injury, you should follow up with a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.

Referenced from:
How to Use the R.I.C.E. Method for Treating Injuries. (2014, August 27). In UPMC HealthBeat. Retrieved February 7, 2018, from