Self Help


If you suspect a serious injury or if you have any of these signs seek professional medical advice.


Deformities in the joint or bone : it looks “crooked,” or moves abnormally.

You cannot bear weight or can't use the limb without it “giving way"

Excessive swelling.Changes in skin color beyond mild bruising.


First, it’s important to know that swelling is a normal response to minor sports injuries. Excessive swelling, though, can reduce range of motion and interfere with healing. You can limit swelling and start healing faster after common sports injuries by using the PRICE principle:

  • P —protect from further injury
    For more severe injuries, protect the injured area with a splint, pad, or crutch.
  • R —restrict activity
    Restricting activity will prevent worsening of the injury.
  • I —apply ice
    Apply ice immediately after a common sports injury. . Don't use heat during this time, it encourages swelling and inflammation.
  • C —apply compression
    Compression with an elastic bandage will help reduce swelling.
  • E —elevate the injured area
    Elevating the injured area above the heart will also reduce swelling.



When To Use

Use ice after an acute injury, such as a ligament sprain or muscle strain or after activities that irritate a chronic injury.

Use heat before activities that irritate chronic injuries such as muscle strains. Heat can help loosen tissues and relax injured areas.

How To Do It

Time Required: Apply ice treatments for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. Too much ice can do harm, even cause frostbite; more ice application does not mean more relief.

Get the ice on quickly.
Icing is most effective in the immediate period following an injury. The effect of icing diminishes significantly after about 48 hours.

Perform icing option 1 or option 2

Don't forget to elevate.
Keep the injured body part elevated above the heart while icing -- this will further help reduce swelling.

Allow time between treatments.
Allow the treated area to warm for at least 45 minutes or an hour before beginning the icing routine again.

Repeat as desired.
Ice as frequently as you wish, so long as the area is warm to touch and has normal sensation before repeating. Do NOT apply if the skin to be treated is RED.

Ice Option 1 -Use a frozen flexible gel pack or a small plastic bag with ice cubes or crushed ice. Add a little water to the ice bag so it will conform to your body. Use a thin towel or several layers of cling film between the ice pack and your skin to prevent frostbite.

Ice Option 2 -Keep paper cups filled with water in your freezer. Peel the top of the cup away and massage the ice-cup over the injury continually in a circular pattern allowing the ice to melt away. This will prevent frost bite.

sources: Hubbard TJ, Denegar CR. "Does Cryotherapy Improve Outcomes With Soft Tissue Injury?" J Athl Train. 2004 Sep;39(3):278-279.

Flexible gel packs, heat pads or hot water bottles are excellent methods of applying heat treatments. The heat should only be hot enough to allow the heat pack to sit comfortably on the skin with a thin towel between the heat source and skin.

It is not necessary to apply an ice treatment for more than about 20 minutes at a time. Never apply ice while sleeping.

It is not necessary to apply a heat treatment for more than about 20 minutes at a time. Never apply heat while sleeping.