Firstly, the R stands for Rest. That means, from the moment you notice the onset of an injury, immediately cease strenuous exercise, as much as you can. Resting allows your body to form scar tissue to patch up an injury whether it’s a scrape or a graze up to a muscle tear. Continuing running will only aggravate the injury in its acute phase.
I stands for Ice. Ice will help to reduce the pain and also the swelling, allowing the local blood vessels more room to open to their full size. This will improve venous return, and will help the body to remove the waste products generated by your body repairing a traumatic injury. Wrap some ice cubes in a wet tea towel for easy relief.
C is for Compression. A compression garment or even a compression bandage can help to support an injured limb, providing a degree of immobilisation and helping to reduce swelling. Reduced swelling allows for better blood flow to an injured area and can decrease your recovery time between harder runs.
E stands for Elevation. If you’re suffering from an injured leg, once you’ve got home and put on some Ice and Compression, raise the leg and prop it up. Once again this will help you to reduce the swelling, allowing more blood flow because blood vessels at the site of the injury aren’t so constricted.
Be very careful when taking painkillers if you have an injury. Many painkillers cause a reduction in blood’s clotting ability. Aspirin and its derivatives can increase bleeding at an injury site, delaying healing.
Stop running on an injured leg for as long as it takes to feel comfortable walking for thirty minutes. If you’re able to do this, return to your running program gradually, maybe by going back to a previous step in your training, to ensure that you don’t overdo it.
If you believe you are injured severely, please seek the advice of your family doctor.
Image courtesy of _rockinfree (Claire Powers) on Flickr.