RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. When you’ve got muscle aches or joint pains, these four things are best for immediate treatment. These measures can relieve pain, reduce swelling, and protect damaged tissues, all of which speed healing. The only problem with RICE is that too many runners focus on the “I” while ignoring the “RCE.” Ice reduces inflammation, but to ice-and-run, ice-and-run, without giving the tissues enough time to heal, is a little like dieting every day until 6 p.m. and then pigging out. Special attention should be paid to the “rest” in RICE; do not run until the injury is healed.
RICE is most effective when done immediately following an injury. If you twist your ankle or strain your hamstring, plan to take a few days off from running. Apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. If you can, elevate the area to limit swelling. Compression can also further reduce inflammation and can provide pain relief, especially when you first return to running. An ACE bandage is the simplest way to wrap a swollen area.