Move to Heal

If you haven’t heard, it’s no longer cool to rest and ice an injury. Stop doing the RICE method and start doing METH instead. I coined the acronym METH about a decade ago and it’s been very popular ever since. The reason is simple: it works!

METH stands for movement, elevation, traction, and heat. Notice how movement is first on the list? There’s a reason for that… it’s the priority! Actually, movement is involved in every aspect of METH. Let’s take a closer look.


Choose a pain-free movement that resonates well with you, such as walking, cycling, rowing, or swimming. If you’re in a cast, just wiggling your fingers or toes may be enough. Pick something that does not cause pain and do it. Even better, pick something that relieves your pain and do it! For athletes, concentric-based movements, like cycling or sled dragging, work well because they don’t cause any muscle damage. For most individuals, walking does the job.


It’s much easier to push a wheelbarrow down a hill than up one. When possible, let gravity help drainage by placing the injured limb above the level of the heart, then get moving!


By applying traction and opening up a joint, you allow nutrients in, it increases your range of motion, decreases pain, and gets you back to normal quicker. There are a number of techniques that you can use with a resistance band (here’s one for the ankle), and for the spine, you can try hanging from a bar or lying on a foam roller, but if you use one of these passive methods, make sure to move afterward.


Some moist heat can help with circulation to bring nutrients and healing factors to the area, but it’s very important to move while you’re doing it to evacuate the waste products and reduce pain. If you don’t, you’re going to increase swelling and pain, and you risk developing a condition known as myositis ossificans. Movement is the remedy! To learn more about this concept, check out my recent appearance on the FSM Sports Game Changers Podcast.

Sled drags are a great way to promote recovery between workouts.

Active Recovery Rules

If you want to speed up the recovery process, get moving! Bodywork can be useful as well, but it’s not enough. It may help you gain some pain-free range and function, but unless you “use it” shortly afterward, you’ll “lose it” fairly quickly. In other words, the effect is usually transient – you must move after any form of passive therapy in order for it to stick. As Stan Efferding says: “There are many externally imposed recovery actions and strategies that elicit movement. But, it’s the movement itself that elicits recovery.”

Bottom Line: Movement is key to healing. Whether you’re healing from a workout or an injury, you need to move and you need to move often!

The Story of Invincible

Injury Prevention Strategies for Aging Athletes is a seminar that I’ve presented several times over the years to professional organizations

Read More
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: No feed with the ID 2 found.

Please go to the Instagram Feed settings page to create a feed.