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. It’s also the best way to help that injury heal faster and helps us to get back to the activities we love. 

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, 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 further. Inflammation also allows healing cells and nutrients into 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.?

R.I.C.E.R. is an acronym to help us remember how to take care of an injury:

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 from the injury as well as the inflammation that follows.

Ice should be used on the area of the injury. A soft gel ice pack or bag of peas can be placed in a towel and onto the affected area for 15-20 minutes. This can be repeated again every hour. People often think of ice for a new injury but not an old one. Ice is also often associated with the area’s inflammation and swelling. Ice can work well for old injuries as well to help heal soft tissue. So consider using ice for any tightness and discomfort to decrease the symptom and help the healing process.

A word of caution: Never apply heat to a new injury or any area that is painful or swollen. The heat will cause too much blood flow to the area, which may contribute to more inflammation. When in doubt, use ice.

Icing, Reduce Swelling, Heal Faster

Icing can help reduce inflammation and swelling to help you heal faster!

Compression – Compression will help stabilize the area to prevent further injury. Our body again will already start compression 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 heal. This will also help prevent muscle spasms that can follow an injury.

Elevation – If possible, elevate the limb or area affected with the injury. This helps the inflammation to cleanse itself, filtering out any cells that may have been damaged with the injury. Consider elevation with only certain types of injury: if it’s too painful to move the area, it’s always best to hold it when comfortable and in a position that provides the least amount of pain and effort.

Referral or Rehabilitation – It’s important to never underestimate an accident or injury. If you’re unsure about 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 once the adrenaline goes down, we can feel more pain or more injures that we  feel before. It’s better safe than sorry to seek medical care. 

The next step after any injury is the rehabilitation process. Having your chiropractor, massage therapist or physiotherapist evaluate the injury with you is important to help you get back on your feet.


Healing an injury is a multi-stage process. But being aware of what to do in the first stages will help you heal, not only in the moment but also at later stages.

No matter what your fun activity you 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!