Most painful but minor injuries can be handled at home by following some basic first aid measures. Say you sprain or twist your ankle or hurt your wrist or knee, then the first thing you need to try is RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Here’s more on RICE and how it helps:
Rest: The worst thing you could do to an injury is to try to pull through and finish your workout or run. STOP any activity you were doing while you got hurt and just take it easy. Do not strain the injured part as it not only worsens the pain but also delays the healing process.
Remember, the key is to ease the pressure and protect your arm or foot from further injury. Avoid putting weight on the injured area.
Ice: Apply ice packs or a bag of frozen peas immediately as it helps to reduce pain and swelling. Do this for a maximum of 20 minutes and at least once every 3-4 hours to help ease the pain.
If you do not have an ice pack, you can make one at home. Take a kitchen sponge (the one used for cleaning utensils) and soak it in water. Then put it in a sealable plastic bag, zip the bag and freeze it.
A few ice cubes and a cotton cloth (napkin or handkerchief) can also do in a pinch but not when you have a cut or an open wound. Do not apply ice cubes directly over the skin as it could cause frostbite.
Compression: Use an elastic medical bandage to wrap the injured area to reduce swelling and internal bleeding (if any).
Remember that the wrap should be snug but not too tight that it hinders blood flow. Watch out for signs such as increased pain, numbness, tingling sensation, coolness and swelling, which indicate that your bandage is too tight. Loosen the bandage immediately and go to a doctor if the symptoms don’t go away.
It is wise to remove the bandage before going to bed to allow the skin in the injured area to breathe.
Elevation: Raise the injured body part, preferably to a level above the heart, which helps reduce the swelling. Also, as the pressure in the injured area is reduced, it will gradually alleviate pain. For example, if you have injured your foot, rest your foot on a stool when you sit or use a pillow to prop up your feet when you lie down.
However, if there is no improvement in your condition for more than two days, do consult a doctor as it might indicate fractures or any internal injuries.