Who remembers from high school PE class the acronym for the management of a soft tissue injury? That’s right, the good old RICE – standing for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Recent evidence has emerged that this may not be the optimal strategy for the management of soft tissue injuries – i.e. ankle and knee sprains, hamstring strains, calf strains, etc.
Now think POLICE – Protect and Optimal Loading…
The acronym that is now emerging to be used is POLICE. The new bit being Protect and Optimal Loading.
This stands for:
- Protect – giving support to vulnerable/painful structures whether that be via a CAM (moon) boot, taping, splint or sling,
- Optimal Loading – this means using and/or strengthening the injured area to what it can tolerate as soon as possible, whether that be by putting a little bit of weight through your sprained ankle as your using crutches, starting some isometric strengthening for a hamstring strain or doing gentle range of motion exercises for an angry shoulder there is always something that can be done.
- And then of course we just have the usual Ice, Compression and Elevation.
By loading our injured tissues at a level that does not exceed their capacity allows for a protein called collagen – which is the building block of our soft tissues – to scar and remodel in an optimal formation as opposed to just being laid all over the place which makes it much more susceptible to injury in the future.
Benefits of early rehab
Some patients we see wait several days, even weeks before coming in, thinking that we cannot do anything at physio to help them get better sooner. This is far from the truth and generally speaking the quicker you come in, the quicker you can get better.
A research study done in 2017 looked at 2 groups of athletes who sustained a muscular strain – one group had early therapy starting 2 days after injury, the other group waited until 9 days after. As the below graph depicts nicely, those in the early-therapy group were able to recover and return to sport on average 3 weeks quicker compared to those who delayed therapy.
If you have sustained a soft tissue injury, come and see us nice and early and we’ll do all we can utilising the best current research and clinical experience to get you safely back on the park as soon as possible!
Nathan is a Physiotherapist in our Jordan Springs team. He is particularly interested in the positive impact that strength training can have for people of all ages and stages. Other articles by Nathan include:
- Physical Activity, Exercise and Cardiac Disease
- Strength Training for Life
- Beat It – Diabetes Exercise Program