RICE= Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

RICE= Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

By Dave Van Zandt, CSCS, CEAS, Cert FCE

Treatment of sprains and strains is often accomplished with the “RICE” method. If you are unsure of the severity of your sprain or strain, consult your doctor before beginning any treatment or rehab. The following is an explanation of the RICE method of treatment for sprains and strains:


Injuries heal faster if you rest. Continued use of a moderate or severely sprained ankle can delay healing, increase pain, or worsen the injury. With a mild sprain, activity as tolerated after 1 to 2 days of rest can be helpful.


For the first 48 hours post-injury, ice the sprain or strain 20 minutes at a time every 3-4 hours with an ice pack. Another popular treatment method is to fill paper cups with water then freeze the cup. Use the frozen cube like an ice cream cone, peeling away paper as the ice melts. Do NOT ice a sprain or strain for more than 20 minutes at a time! You will not be helping heal the injury any faster, and you can cause damage to the tissues!


Use compression when elevating a sprain or strain in early treatment. Using an Ace bandage, wrap the area overlapping the elastic wrap by one-half of the width of the wrap. The wrap should be snug, but not cutting off circulation to the extremity. So, if your fingers or toes become cold, blue, or tingle, re-wrap!


Raise your ankle above your heart for the first 24 hours, to minimize swelling and limit internal bleeding. The less swelling present, the faster an injury will heal