Strains and sprains can be very painful, but pain doesn’t always show up immediately following a soft tissue injury. It’s common for it to increase the day following a 1st or 2nd degree injury. The key is to be proactive. So whether you notice immediate pain or not, begin these steps as soon as possible. Following R.I.C.E will limit the upcoming pain and inflammation occurring in the first 72 hours.  This is soft tissue injury stage 1 of 3 where inflammation sets in causing a stiff or boggy feeling. These steps will also help to limit the amount of scar tissue build up during stage 2 of the healing process.


This is especially important for lower body injuries such as ankle sprains. Keeping weight off the injured area will ensure no further damage to the already compromised tissue.


Ice is extremely important to control the amount of inflammation (swelling) that occurs to heal a soft tissue injury. It’s necessary, but too much inflammation will cause excess scar tissue and increase the healing time. Ice should be applied to the injury for 10-15 minutes every few hours up to 72 hours.  Ice is the main pain reliever of R.I.C.E, some suggest you reapply as soon as the skin rewarms.


Compression is also a useful tool to help limit swelling. It’s as simple as wrapping the ankle, wrist, etc with a tensor or ACE bandage.  Be cautious not to cut off circulation into toes or fingers.


As much as possible keep the injury higher than your heart, especially at night. This promotes circulation in the proper direction for swelling control.


The R.I.C.E principle uses 4 different methods to help control pain and inflammation, we like to think of massage as a 5th. Not only does massage promote the healing process, it’s also useful in soft tissue injury stage 2 (this lasts from 72 hours up to 6 weeks). In stage 2 scar tissue is formed with the normal healing process, which often restricts range of motion.

Massage helps to limit and breakdown excess scar tissue enabling a faster and more efficient recovery.