Most people are familiar with the concepts of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to assist with reducing inflammation post injury. However, the latest research into pain science and injury rehabilitation has offered an updated approach to supporting the body in its healing process. Canadian researchers, Blaise Dubois and Jean-Francois Esculier, have complied the best evidence-based approaches in to new acronyms PEACE and LOVE.
PEACE deals with the timeframe immediately following the injury.
- Protect—Protect the injury by restricting movements or weight bearing to reduce further trauma, prevent swelling, and reduce risk of aggravating it. There is no need for prolonged rest, but let pain be your guide to movement.
- Elevate—Elevate the limb higher than the heart to let gravity assist fluid flow out of the injured tissue, which can reduce swelling.
- Avoid—Avoid anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Research has shown they may be detrimental to long-term tissue healing by slowing down the healing response. Cryotherapy (AKA ice) may disrupt healing, too. Ice has been shown to be helpful for pain relief, so use if required but limit to short term use if possible.
- Compression—Compress the area by applying pressure with a wrap, bandage, or compressive brace to reduce swelling.
- Educate—Seek out information from a therapist or medical professional about appropriate methods for active recovery and how to apply healing guidelines to your specific injury. Limit unnecessary medical investigations. Active recovery over passive approaches are shown to be more beneficial. Over treatment can result in extra medical interventions, dependence on the medical system and fixation on the injury vs self-reliance and confidence in the natural healing process. This concept is closely linked with optimism below.
After the initial timeframe has passed (usually a few days), apply the LOVE techniques to continue to assist your body’s healing process.
- Load—Resume normal activity as soon as you can. Normal activity can be usually resumed quickly after injury if there’s no pain.
- Optimism—Positive attitude for the win. By staying realistic, but optimistic, this enhances optimal recovery, as studies have shown that your brain and your outlook can play a large role in pain and recovery.
- Vascularization—Start back with easier aerobic exercise if no pain lingers to increase your blood flow.
- Exercise—Return to normal exercise. When you can actually get back to your regular routine is dependent on the injury and pain. Again, consult a professional if you have any concerns.
Remember the human body is smart and efficient. Knowing the techniques to optimize and trust in the physiology of our natural healing processes can help you get back to balance and normal activity as soon as possible.
Massage therapists (and all our other therapists) are here to help educate you through this process, answer questions, refer you to other professionals if needed, provide support with reducing stress, and support and empower a positive outlook during the recovery process.
– Michelle Kohle, RMT