Training-Room Tips: RICE Treatment Also Reduces Scar Tissue & the Chance of Re-Injury

Training-Room Tips: RICE Treatment Also Reduces Scar Tissue & the Chance of Re-Injury

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

Most teachers realize that applying the RICE treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to soft tissue injuries will improve healing time by reducing inflammation and swelling.

But there's another long-term reason to apply ice, compression and elevation. It reduces the chance of future re-injury by reducing the formation of scar tissue around the injury!

In fact, untreated scar tissue is a major cause of recurring injuries. And such injuries can occur months after the initial trauma.

The Effect of Scar Tissue
When muscles tear, they are not immediately repaired with new muscle tissue. Instead, scar tissue forms around the tear in an attempt to re-connect the torn fibres. Scar tissue is not as strong as regular muscle fibre and it can last for years, producing a weak spot in the muscle that is prone to re-injury. Scar tissue also reduces both the strength and flexibility of the muscle.

Removing Scar Tissue
The best way to prevent the problems associated with scar tissue is to minimize its formation in the first place. And the RICE treatment will do just that.

Once scar tissue has formed, however, the best way to remove it is through deep tissue massage, in which the therapist applies direct pressure to the area (usually with the thumbs) to break it up. This will remodel the scar tissue so the excess breaks down and the remainder becomes stronger and acts more like regular muscle tissue.

1. Maribeth Salge, (PE, CSCS), "The Clinic: Scar Tissue Reduction Options Limited." Running & Fitnews, Mar/April 2009. 2. Brad Walker, "Pulled Muscles, Scar Tissue and Re-Injury." Your Personal Trainer, September 2007.

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