Basic First aid – Why R.I.C.E.R. is important?
Regardless of the season or how safe and careful we are while doing our activities, accidents happen. For this reason it’s always a good idea to be up to date on how to take basic care of an injury after it’s happened. It’s also the best way to help that injury heal faster and helps us to get back on our feet.
What happens to our body when we have an injury?
The first thing our body tries to do when we get injured is to protect itself from further injury. Our nervous system, our circulatory system and even our muscles and skin work together to isolate the sight of the injury by causing our blood vessels to expand and dilate. This causes the heat and inflammation and pain that we normally see in an injury. Inflammation is actually a safety response to help stop the area from moving and possibly getting injured any further and also to allow healing cells and nutrients in the area to start the healing process. In this immediate stage of healing it is very important to perform R.I.C.E.R. – a basic form of medical treatment to help with the symptoms from the injury.
What is R.I.C.E.R.?
It’s an acronym that is easy to remember in an injury situation:
Rest – It’s always best when we have an injury to try to keep the limb and our bodies as comfortable as possible. This way our body can focus on the task at hand, healing the injury. Even after the main injury has been tended to, getting as much rest as possible will speed up healing overall.
Ice – Ice will help with the pain that will come from the injury as well as the inflammation that follows. When applying ice it is best to have something that is light and yet malleable, like a bag of peas or a light gel pack.
Compression – Compression will help with stabilizing the area to prevent further injury. Now our body again will already start that even before we apply a hold or a bandage on top of the injury. What’s important is helping that process so that the body can relax and do what it needs to – heal. This also will help to prevent muscle spasms that can follow an injury.
Elevation – It is always best if possible to elevate the limb or area affected with the injury. This helps the inflammation to cleanse itself returning to the body to filter out any damaged cells that may of happened with the injury. This however depends on the injury. It’s too painful to move the area it’s always best to hold it when comfortable and in which position provides the least amount of pain and effort.
Referral or Rehabilitation – It’s always important to never underestimate an accident or injury. If your left with doubt to the extent of the injury always seek medical attention. Our bodies will run on adrenaline, part of our fight or flight response to give us the boost we need to get through an injury… but after a while this goes down we can feel more pain or more areas injured that we didn’t think or feel before. So again it’s better safe than sorry.
The next step after any injury is the rehabilitation process. Having your chiropractor, massage therapist or physiotherapist evaluate the injury afterwards with you is important to help you get back on your feet.
Healing of an injury is a multiple stage process but being aware of what to do in the first stages is important to securing better healing not only in the moment, but in the stages further on.
No matter what your fun activity will be this season, being prepared should always be a lifelong goal. Looking after your health and the health of your loved ones no matter where life takes you. Happy adventuring!
By Ashley Rocheleau – Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)