For those of you not familiar with the RICE acronym, it stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. While the goal of using the RICE method is to reduce pain and inflammation in an effort improve recovery time, there is no research to support its use over any other type of injury care.
I've come to believe that the growing utilization of the RICE method is most likely due to the accessibility of the equipment needed to hit all four points of treatment. If you have access to ice and a tensor band then you can RICE the heck out of most injuries.
If you've been following my posts, you know that I'm big on active care. The RICE method is largely passive. Kicking your wrapped ankle up on the couch with an ice pack and watching all 5 seasons of Game of Thrones shouldn't be the extent of the "care" you're receiving. It requires very little thought, direction and energy. (Check out: Rest ≠ Recovery)
The Scotch enthusiast in me advocates a different acronym for injury care.
MALT: Movement, Acupuncture, Laser Therapy and Taping.
The broadest category in the MALT acronym is undoubtedly "Movement". Movement can take the form of mobilizations and manipulations of the soft tissues and joints, graded exercises to fit the type and severity of the injury, etc. I have a few posts already covering the importance of movement (Movement is Medicine, The Three Components to Optimal Injury Repair). In my practice, the use of Functional Range Release and Functional Range Conditioning techniques have been one of the most valuable tools to help my patients from a movement perspective.
Lots can be said about both acupuncture and laser therapy. For the sake of brevity I will discuss these two topics in greater detail sometime in the near future. Taping is probably the part of the MALT method which I use most conservatively. There is a time and a place for various treatment interventions. Athletic taping can provide structural support to an injury, while Kinesiotaping can provide additional proprioceptive input to the injured tissues. Sometimes one or both of the taping styles can be used depending on the type and severity of the injury.
Overall, the MALT method has been something we've been using with great success at Mountain Health and Performance. Ironically, I've been using it on my own recently sprained ankle with significant improvements thus far. Don't settle for the RICE method if you've got an acute or nagging injury.
Out with the old, in with the new!