RICER vs. POLICE
Most of us have heard the term RICE, or RICER which refers to the acronym we have been using in order to remember what to do in acute injury situations.
Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Referral.
Out with the old, in with the new. We now need to call on POLICE!
Protection. Optimal Loading. Ice. Compression. Elevation.
This change reflects the importance of continuing to put some load through the affected area, as long as it is safe to do so. Too much rest can be detrimental to the healing process, resulting in more pain, swelling and less function. Injuries will respond in a positive manner to optimal loading – our body is in a constant state of cellular turnover and optimal loading helps to stimulate healing and to reduce swelling. But what is ‘optimal loading’? This could be walking, activation exercises, or stretching and strengthening exercises – all dependent on what type of injury you have and how tolerant it is to different loading.
A good example of this ‘optimal loading’ concept is a lateral ankle sprain. Protecting the injury may be necessary for a short period (i.e. crutches, boot), but we can usually get the person walking on it quickly – although restricted in distance and pace – this helps with optimising scar tissue, and reducing swelling by utilising muscle contraction to push fluid back to the heart. It also helps in reducing any strength and endurance loss for the muscles surrounding the affected joint and even the entire limb.
As you can see, early optimal loading can be very beneficial to the healing process and is important to the progress of most injuries. Once your injury is diagnosed, your physiotherapist will be able to put a plan in place in order to get you moving as soon as possible, for the benefit of your overall health, but also for optimal healing of your injury.
Remember next time you have an injury, out with RICER, and in with POLICE!