New research explains why prolonged rest is not advised after an acute injury or musculoskeletal problem and that recovery should include joint and muscle stimulation (movement).
Every injury and musculoskeletal problem is unique, and there is no standard protocol for all situations. However, it is important to know that resting with an ice or heat pack for prolonged periods can set us back in the healing process. Ice causes vasoconstriction, reduces tissue oxygenation, and inhibits the inflammatory response needed to initiate healing. Prolonged rest delays the body’s healing response too. When we move, the benefits of mechanotransduction occur.
Mechanotransduction occurs when the physical deformation of tissues (sheer or compressive) by mechanical load of movement leads to, among other things, the release of chemical growth factors from the cells to stimulate repair and remodeling. This happens in all types of tissues including bones, tendons, muscles, and articular cartilages.
While there is a place for anti-inflammatories and ice, e.g. when pain is great and the body's inflammatory response is exaggerated for the degree of injury, they - according to recent evidence - should be used sparingly, with discretion and with the advice of health care professionals who know your particular situation. (Heat should be avoided in the first 48 hours after an injury when inflammation, cell death and activity is at its peak in order to avoid extending damage to surrounding tissues.)
Gradual, repetitive movement should be implemented - with consideration if there is a bone fracture or significant traumatic injury - as soon as possible. All actions taken should be aimed at speeding and supporting the healing of injured tissues. It may be time to retire RICE and MOVE on to using more evidence-based advice.
O-options for cross training
V-vary rehabilitation with strength, balance, and agility training
E- easing back to activity early