Winter usually brings with it an increase risk of injury for runners due to icy surfaces and fallen leaves making conditions treacherous underfoot. Should you be one of the unlucky ones to sprain an ankle in the pursuit of health and fitness whilst many are thinking about filling up on mince pies and mulled wine do not despair!

The P. R. I. C. E. protocol should be implemented immediately following injury. This simple 5 step plan can help to minimize the immediate effects of injury such as swelling, pain and loss of functional movement prior to seeing your physiotherapist or sports medicine professional.

P is for Protection

Technically this step can be implemented prior to injury but you can help protect yourself by fuelling up effectively (ie eat well!), maintaining hydration levels during exercise, warming up and down effectively and wearing correct footwear and clothing for the conditions. Should you still get injured ensure you protect yourself from further damage by stopping exercising and where available use splints or crutches to take the weight off the injured joint.

R is for Rest

Allowing an injury time to heal is essential. It sounds simple but soldiering on and trying to ‘run off’ an injury can often makes things worse and delay healing. Be guided by your physiotherapist regarding the length of rehabilitation time needed to allow even a seemingly small injury to heal.
I is for Ice

Pain and inflammation can be significantly reduced by applying an ice pack or a pack of frozen peas onto the injury. Ice the injury immediately for up to 20 minutes and then every 3-4 hours until you are able to see your physiotherapist. Do NOT ice for more than 20 minutes at a time. Place a layer between your skin and the ice or keep the ice moving (ice massage) to prevent an ice burn

C is for Compression

Compression of the swollen area using stretchy bandage will help to reduce the swelling and control the spread into uninjured areas. It is important NOT to used rigid tape until the swelling has plateaued as the lack of ‘give’ in the tape could potentially compromise blood flow to and from the injury site.

E is for Elevation

Elevating the injury to above the heart reduces the flow of blood to the area and reduces the swelling. You can do this in conjunction with icing and compression for 20 minutes every 3-4 hours.
Try and see your physiotherapist or sports medicine professional as soon as possible following injury. They will be able to clinically assess the nature and severity of injury and manage your rehabilitation.

Please contact the team at Oxford Circus Physiotherapy on (0)207 636 5774 or reception@oxfordcircusphysio.co.uk should you wish to discuss any of the topics raised above.