The New Injury Rehabilitation Paradigm: RICE Is Not NICE, Do METH Instead!

As I mention in my article Radical Methods of Injury Rehabilitation, the standard procedure for most injuries involves anti-inflammatories and painkillers along with RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Normally, what do I recommend?

Almost the exact opposite!

No rest and no compression, use movement with traction instead. According to Dr. Tim McKnight (2010), rest will lead to atrophy and weakness and may disrupt balance and proper body positioning. Furthermore, compression can shut down blood flow to the area; whereas, traction will release the pressure and movement will encourage blood that is rich with healing factors, such as oxygen and white and red blood cells, to flow to the area. In addition, movement with traction reduces pain, enhances lymphatic removal of inflammation, improves flexibility, and restores normal joint alignment.

Absolutely no ice, use heat instead. Again, the key is blood flow. If you want something to heal, it requires blood! Don’t slow the process down with ice. You may, however, use varying degrees of elevation throughout the process. I learned this procedure from Dick Hartzell, co-author of the book Don’t Ice that Ankle Sprain. Keep in mind that this applies to low-grade sprains only.

I term the approach METH: movement, elevation, traction, and heat.

Should you take anti-inflammatories and painkillers?

Well, yes and no. Take proteolytic enzymes, which are natural anti-inflammatories, and take them by the boatload on an empty stomach. Proteolytic enzymes work by digesting dead tissue that accumulates as a result of injury. Unlike icing, normal fluid retention is able to take place thereby reducing swelling and pain while enhancing the ability to heal. In addition, proteolytic enzymes serve as healthy alternatives to conventional medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which have many negative side effects. In fact, the most common pills sold in Europe, more than any drug or medication, are proteolytic enzymes. A great resource on this topic is an audio CD titled Systemic Enzyme Therapy by Dr. William Wong.

Bottom Line: Forget RICE, do METH instead to heal injuries fast!

By the way, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Watch the following video…

Here’s a summary of the discussion between Kelly Starrett, co-founder of San Francisco Crossfit and and co-author of Becoming a Supple Leopard, and Gary Reinl, author of Iced! The Illusionary Treatment Option:

The key with tissue healing is to allow garbage to be released and groceries to enter or as they say in the video: “Garbage out, groceries in!” You must allow the inflammatory process to take place. Don’t hinder it with icing.

The waste products are evacuated through the lymphatic system, not the circulatory system (the particles are too big). Therefore, muscle contraction is necessary to move lymph and eliminate these chemicals, not immobilization!

You don’t necessarily need to work that exact area of injury (it may be too painful), just work that region of the body. It will create negative pressure around the site. It’s only a one-way system. There’s no other way out, but it requires muscle activation.

Ice can relieve pain but will cause congestion of the tissue. It causes a backflow of the interstitial space, shuts off the signal between the muscles and nerves, and does not help the evacuation of deoxygenated blood and waste. Therefore, ice is counterproductive!

Ibuprofen is worse because it actually stops the signal of the inflammatory response, not just prevents it. The body’s natural inflammatory response is not a mistake!

There can be inflammation without healing, but there can’t be healing without inflammation!

There are 3 stages of healing:

1. Inflammation
2. Repair
3. Remodeling

If you skip stage 1, you have prevented stage 2 and 3.

The compression aspect of RICE should mean muscle compression to pull the waste out of the injured tissue and supply the site with nutrition and other healing factors.

Macrophages clean up waste and IGF-1 allows the remodeling of tissue. Don’t hinder it with ice, which may congest the area. People who use ice show joint instability when healed.

For pain management, decongest the area of congestion. Again, don’t block it with ice or prevent it with anti-inflammatories. Use movement instead, and then “tell me how you feel!” If you’re in a cast, simply moving your fingers or toes will help.

What a great video and what a powerful message! A new paradigm exists for injury rehabilitation. The choice is yours.

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

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