Using R.I.C.E. for Injuries

RICE—not just the flavorful grain we all love. R.I.C.E. is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If you experience a sudden foot or ankle injury and are wondering what to do, following these simple steps can help. Let’s take these one at a time.


If you injure yourself or start to feel pain, rest is the first thing to start with. It’s very simple…don’t use the part of your body that hurts! Stop all activity immediately and get your weight off the injured foot. The less stress you put on a recently injured foot, the better. Your FAAWC provider will probably recommend keeping any weight or stress off that foot for several days to a week after the injury. Rushing back into using a bad foot or ankle can cause recurrent problems.


Most people wonder whether to apply heat or ice after an injury. In the case of a foot, ankle, or heel injury, the answer is ice. Flexible ice packs are a great thing to keep around in case of accidental injury. The cold will reduce your pain and any swelling that may occur. You should only ice for about 10 to 20 minutes at a time, preferably three times daily. After two or three days you can switch to heat if there is no longer any swelling. Any heat or cold should not be applied directly to the body, so place a towel or protective layer between your skin and the ice pack.


This is an important part of the process that a lot of people will skip because they don’t exactly know what it means or how to achieve it. Compression means wrapping an area and putting slight pressure on an injury to help reduce swelling and keep the injured area immobile. Many people are unfamiliar with the proper use of an Ace Bandage for wrapping. If you don’t know how to properly wrap your foot, ask your foot doctor for a demonstration and advice. If you don’t want to mess with wrapping, try a pair of compression socks. They are as easy as slipping them on and letting them go to work. There are many brands and some different strengths of compression. You can find a great selection here at the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center.


Elevation is the last step in the R.I.C.E. process. Prop that injured foot up on some pillows and try to get it comfortably above the level of your heart. Do this while icing to provide maximum efficiency. Elevation of this sort helps to reduce the buildup of excess fluid or swelling. It may be a good idea to elevate the injured area whenever you are sitting or lying down in the first few days after the injury.


R.I.C.E. is a simple process that works for almost any injury to any part of the body. It is particularly useful and effective for foot, ankle, and heel injuries. If you aren’t sure exactly what to do or when it might be something that needs a more serious treatment than R.I.C.E., ask your podiatrist. Don’t be shy. These simple at-home practices can help reduce recovery time and stop further injury. Remember, the FAAWC has walk-in hours available.

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