R.I.C.E. VS M.E.A.T
People get hurt. It just happens, and it happens to all of us. Sooner or later you will tweak something, tear something, or possibly even break something. It can happen while you are playing a sport, or training in the gym, or simply rolling over in bed. The truth is no matter HOW you do it, you need to manage the healing process to the best of your ability. For years, healthcare providers have pushed R.I.C.E. as the number 1 way to treat a soft tissue injury. R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It's not wrong, it can be helpful, but there have been other, more recent discoveries that alternative forms of treatments for soft tissue injuries can also be useful. You may have heard Myles say, "no, don't stretch it if it hurts, you need to mobilize the joints around the injury." Or "get on a bike and ride keeping a low heart rate for 30 minutes to move your blood around and reduce inflammation." And most of us think- what? No, I want to pop some ibuprofen, sit on the couch, prop my leg up, stick an ice pack on it and watch Netflix. While that type of recovery has its time and place, there are new, and often argued, better ways to reduce inflammation and heal soft tissue damage. The new and improved acronym for treatment of an acute injury is M.E.A.T.
M- Movement: The new protocol is to gently move the injured area as soon as possible while staying at a reasonable pain tolerance level. Get blood flow to the area and use the pumping of your muscles to flush the inflammation. This blood flow brings nutrients and oxygen to the injured area and helps keep the joint moving safely. The movement will put a small amount of pressure/load on the ligament and allow new tissue to grow back correctly.
E- Exercise: Now that you can move the injury without a great deal of pain you need to build back into an exercise routine. This is the idea behind the "slow and low" movement assignments Myles prescribes when clients have pain complaints.
A- Analgesics: With all injuries comes pain. We can use natural pain killers to help manage our pain during the healing process. These are typically things like tumeric, valerian root, CBD, Boswellia and magnesium. As an aside- ibuprofen is pretty controversial for use during an acute soft tissue injury. Many studies have pointed to the benefit of swelling and the anti-inflammatory nature of ibuprofen negates any positive effects that natural swelling can have to heal the injury.
T-Treatment: It can be beneficial to work with a PT, chiropractor, naturopath, personal trainer (that knows what they are doing) or massage therapist to continue heading in the right direction toward healing. Acupuncture, soft tissue release, ice, heat, lasers, and TENS are also good modalities that promote pain relief and healing to consider as an early form of treatment after an acute injury. A good post-injury treatment plan, whether it be prescribed by a professional or simple exercise ideas that are specific for your injury recovery are just what you need to get back on track to a healthy you.
To share a recent (as in right now) experience with you all, Myles hurt himself skiing this past weekend. He isn't sure exactly what he did but he knows he hit hard pack snow abruptly and jammed both his legs pretty hard. The result was knee pain that vacillated between his left and right side and he was pretty beat up. He immediately started using his EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) unit and doing muscle activation around the site of the pain to enhance blood flow to the area. He worked on range of motion of his joints around the injury. He drank more water and went to bed earlier. He also rode the airdyne bike several times for 10-20 min a session to get some blood flow to the area. He took short walks. He began a CBD regiment and kept a healthy dose going for several days. He actually took warm baths! 36 hours after his injury his knees were feeling well enough to teach class- albeit at a slightly lower intensity than normal. What he didn't do: He didn't ice his knees, he did not take ibuprofen and he didn't rest his legs. He is practicing what he preaches and in this instance it has worked very well for moving him quickly towards healing. So don't be surprised if he recommends the same protocol if you hurt yourself! (The warm baths are a nice touch though.)