Should You Still Be Using The RICE Recovery Method?

Sport is risky. As any athlete knows, whether you’re facing down impact injuries in rugby or muscle tears in cricket, being at the top of your game is never without the risk of injury. Preventative methods can only take you so far. 

Because there’s no way of minimising the risk of injury to zero, it’s a fair assumption that athletes are going to need professional methods of recovery. Once touted as the answer to all sports-based injuries, the RICE recovery method focuses on four key pillars of recovery: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. 

Athletes in a huge range of sports and across an enormous range of disciplines and skill levels have used the RICE method to recover from injuries. But with our increased understanding of the human body, as well as developments in sports technology, is RICE still the best way to recover from sports injuries?

What does RICE do?

Dr. Mirkin pioneered the RICE method to assist with muscle recovery and reducing muscle inflammation, and it was widely adopted by coaches and athletes alike. 

As we’ve mentioned, the acronym refers to the four pillars of recovery, which for Mirkin were Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Mirkin and others decided that these steps - resting the affected area, icing it, applying a compress and elevating it above the heart-  was the best route to restoring movement and healthy blood flow after intense exercise.

In recent years, experts and recovery professionals have reconsidered whether the RICE method truly represents the best approach to recovery after intense sport.  Infact, some experts think that ice and rest may delay recovery, and could result in further damage to the tissue. 

In fact, even Dr. Mirkin changed his own position on RICE in 2015 -  after coming to the conclusion that the rest, ice, recovery and elevation method simply may not be the most appropriate in all cases. 

So - if RICE isn’t a good recovery method, what should you do instead?

What are other methods of recovery? 

There are several other ways that you can begin to recover from injury or intense exercise which don’t follow the four pillars of RICE

  1. Active recovery works on the principle of moving the injured or affected area, to ensure that the area receives a healthy flow of blood and lymphatic drainage can operate and clear the metabolic waste from the system. Both of these are helpful in the recovery process, and can mean swelling in the area reduces and movement returns.

  1. Compression is also key for recovery. Studies suggest that compression can play a hugely important role when it comes to recovering from sport-induced injuries, assisting in blood flow, lymphatic drainage of the area, and recovering mobility. CRX compression offers athletes the best chance of recovery possible, including:
36% more next day power
37% more next day strength
36% increase in overall recovery performance

Implementing compression into your active recovery protocol can represent a positive change from the RICE method - which might be hurting your progress more than it’s helping. 

Physiotherapists and recovery experts now suggest a replacement for the RICE acronym is the acronym MOVE. MOVE stands for: Movement, instead of recommending rest, Options: offering athletes other options or modifications for exercises; Vary rehabilitation with strength, balance and agility drills, and finally, Ease back to full activity. 

Easing back to full activity means taking full responsibility for your compression, implementing it immediately post-exercise to get to work establishing blood flow. 

Failing to implement compression into your recovery can mean harmful lactic acid remains in your body, leaving painful swelling that can even be debilitating for an athlete.

 Don’t risk falling behind with outdated recovery methods - upgrade from RICE, and MOVE!

Learn more about our compression range for recovery here.