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Has RICE for injury been debunked?

Updated: May 26, 2023

Now what?

The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method has been questioned in recent years, especially the 'Ice' and 'Rest' components.

For a long time, it was assumed that icing an injury would help reduce inflammation and speed up recovery. However, some recent research has suggested that icing may, in fact, slow down the healing process. The body's inflammatory response after an injury is a natural part of the healing process. By using ice, we might be reducing the body's ability to repair and rebuild the injured tissues.

Similarly, the idea of complete rest after an injury is also being challenged. While it's crucial not to overdo and aggravate an injury, complete immobilization might not be ideal. Instead, early, gentle movement and rehabilitation exercises can often help promote a more effective recovery by stimulating blood flow and preventing muscle atrophy and joint stiffness.

So, if not RICE, then what? A newer approach has been suggested, referred to as PEACE & LOVE.

PEACE stands for:

  • Protect: Avoid movements or activities that increase pain during the early stages of injury.

  • Elevate: Raise the injured area higher than the heart as often as possible.

  • Avoid anti-inflammatory modalities: As mentioned before, inflammation is a crucial part of the body's healing process.

  • Compression: Apply a compression bandage to reduce swelling.

  • Education: Understand that pain is a part of the healing process, and recovery takes time.

LOVE stands for:

  • Load: Start gentle, non-painful movements and gradually progress load as tolerated.

  • Optimism: Maintain a positive mindset, as mindset can influence recovery.

  • Vascularization: Perform pain-free cardiovascular activities to increase blood flow to the affected area.

  • Exercise: Engage in pain-free exercises to restore mobility, strength, and function.

It's important to note that pain and injuries are complex and individualized. What works best can vary from person to person. Always consider seeking help from a health professional to guide you through your recovery process.

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