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FACT: Ice Anti-inflammatory Treatment Delays Recovery

P.R.I.C.E. may not be the preferred treatment to promote healing

It has been a well known acronym used by those who have taken first aid for sports injuries; P.R.I.C.E. which stands for Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. But the founder of the well known acronym, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, is now saying publicly that it may not be the preferred treatment to promote healing.

ICe for injuriesWhen one is injured, one of the indications the body uses to tell us it is injured is pain and inflammation. What is happening at the cellular level is this: At the onset of injury, cells known as macrophages rush to the affected area and release a hormone known as IGF-1 or insulin like growth Factor to begin the healing process. It is this that causes the inflammatory process at the injured site. If our first instinct is to apply ice, this will reduce the swelling and potentially delay the body from healing itself.

Delaying the healing process?

This intended anti-inflammatory treatment effect of applying ice will cause the blood vessels at the injury site to constrict the flow of blood that will carry the IGF-1. If that happens, it will take many hours for those cells to make it back to the injury site, thereby delaying the healing process.

Another factor that can delay healing is taking any type of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, cortisone-type medications, or anything else that could interfere or stop the immune response.

If you are feeling a little lost as to what to do when an injury occurs, you’re not alone being that P.R.I.C.E. was a staple to our first aid treatment since 1978. But not to fear Dr. Mirkin has provided us with a common sense set of guidelines to assist us in our treatment of injuries.

first thing to do is to stop your activity

The first thing to do is to stop your activity whether it be exercising or playing a sport. Depending on the pain level you are experiencing, you may need to be assessed by a physician at a hospital or if mild enough, make an appointment to see your G.P. If there is an open wound, clean the affected area well, and elevate to help minimize any extra swelling. If the injury is limited to soft tissue such as a muscle, have your coach or athletic trainer apply a compression garments or bandage to provide a bit more support. You can apply ice for the first few minutes without stopping any of the healing process, but anything more than that will not be necessary. These are some simple rules to remember when dealing with an injury, and will promote healing much quicker than previously.

By Lisa Gervais, BCRPA and ACE Certified Personal Trainer, BCRPA SFL

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