The effectiveness of the R.I.C.E. protocol for post-injury recovery has been debated in recent years as more research has come to the forefront questioning this approach. The image of bags of ice being wrapped around injured joints is no new phenomena and seems to be a crucial part of any sideline care strategy, but how is it really benefiting the athlete?
On his wildly popular website, drmirkin.com, Dr. Dave Mirkin, credited with developing the R.I.C.E. protocol, recently posted a blog post arguing against icing as it has been shown in recent studies to delay recovery.
“Ice has been a standard treatment for injuries and sore muscles because it helps to relieve pain caused by injured tissue. Coaches have used my “RICE” guideline for decades, but now it appears that both Ice and complete Rest may delay healing, instead of helping.
In a recent study, athletes were told to exercise so intensely that they developed severe muscle damage that caused extensive muscle soreness. Although cooling delayed swelling, it did not hasten recovery from this muscle damage (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2013). A summary of 22 scientific articles found almost no evidence that ice and compression hastened healing over the use of compression alone, although ice plus exercise may marginally help to heal ankle sprains (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, January, 2004;32(1):251-261).”
He goes on to explain that inflammation actually is the mechanism for healing damaged tissue, something that we discuss and promote through our FAKTR hands-on training courses, through the use of IASTM, joint compression flossing and dynamic myofascial release.
“When muscles and other tissues are damaged, your immunity sends the same inflammatory cells to the damaged tissue to promote healing. The response to both infection and tissue damage is the same. Inflammatory cells rush to injured tissue to start the healing process (Journal of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Vol 7, No 5, 1999). The inflammatory cells called macrophages release a hormone called Insulin-like growth Factor (IGF-1) into the damaged tissues, which helps muscles and other injured parts to heal. However, applying ice to reduce swelling actually delays healing by preventing the body from releasing IGF-1.”
In conclusion, Dr. Mirkin recommends beginning rehabilitation as soon as the next day after injury–refuting the age-old recommendation of “rest and recover.” This is something that we teach more about in both our FAKTR hands-on courses as well as BioMechanical Taping with Dynamic Tape.
To read the full article from Dr. Mirkin, click here.