Physios love our acronyms, from ACL to VBI and every letter in between (unfortunately no acronyms begin with ‘Z’) we have acronyms for everything. The most well known of these is one thrown around in every sporting field in the country…..RICE. ). It’s easy, every coach, player or parents knows; Rest, get the ICE, COMPRESS the area, and ELEVATE! That’s the correct thing to do right? RIGHT? As soon as someone goes down with a sprain or strain “QUICK, get the ice” (as though ice has magical healing properties I was not aware of). Alas, while ice can help numb the pain it does not speed up recovery (may actually hinder in some cases but that’s for another blog). With what the evidence tells us, it may be time for an update to this outdated practice.
We see soft tissues injuries from sports all the time in the clinic; whether it be muscular strains (Commonly hamstring) or ligament strain (ankle). It’s frustrating from a physio standpoint to see these relatively simple, common injuries managed so poorly in the acute stage. The blame lies primarily with ‘old school’ practitioners avoiding change to traditional methods that have been in place for decades. As the adage goes ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’.
Fear not though, here comes the POLICE to the rescue. Another acronym I know ( I told you we love them) but one that actually aids the healing progress from minute one. You will notice that the ‘ICE’ remains the same…. ‘Phew I don’t need to remember 5 new words’. The ‘P” = protect which is really just the same as the ‘R’ but it wouldn’t be right if our acronym didn’t form a cool word, ROLICE doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
The critical point of difference here is the ‘OL’. Which lead us to this term of “Optimal load” which you may have heard if any of you have been to see us before in clinic. Sounds good, but what does this fancy term actually mean? Ahhhh you see, this is where you’re friendly neighbourhood physio comes in to guide you.
I call this the ‘Goldilocks principle’. Just like Goldilocks, we want to find Kellogg’s ‘Just Right’ (I may not have been paying attention in fairy tale class). That is, the adequate amount of load on the injured tissue that will aid tissue healing and recovery. Instead of playing a guessing game like goldilocks did, your physio can help guide you with finding that sweet spot. However if you decide to brave it alone, a good rule of thumb is to let pain guide you. *Unpopular pinion time – Pain is awesome (acute pain) because without it we don’t know when things hurt (duh).It’s surprisingly critical for our survival (ask anyone who can’t feel pain how day to day life feels). We use this important sense to determine what is a safe amount to ‘load’ things up. Think safe as anything that stays within 1-3/10. You WILL NOT damage to the tissues with this amount of pain. Pain DOES NOT equal damage.
So next time you go down with an injury optimally load that baby
– No more RICE (stick to potatoes or pasta for your starchy carbs)
– Call the POLICE (not literally, maybe call us instead)
– Optimally load that injury (get into the clinic Goldilocks)