RICE vs MEAT – Injury Healing Methods

If you were the sporty type at school, you’ve likely come across the terms “MEAT” and “RICE” in relation to sports medicine, but they actually have nothing to do with food…

Had an accident?

Accidents caused by physical exercise and movement are among the most common. 

RICE and MEAT healing techniques have grown in popularity as helpful approaches to speed this process along.  

Each injury case is different and demands a tailored approach. Find out more at personalinjuryclaimsuk.org.uk.

To RICE or not to RICE an injury?

Before dwelling on this highly-debated topic, let’s define the term “RICE”. 

Rice is a mnemonic abbreviating the four stages or elements of treatment widespread in soft tissue injuries, namely the following: 

Refrain from any type of movement in order to prevent further blood flows.
Lack of movement is a safe way of ensuring you don’t worsen the damage.

Place frozen pieces of materials on the affected area to diminish pain and inflammation.
Ice is the perfect ally against inflammation – 20 minutes four times daily should be enough.

Apply to affected areas to prevent haemorrhages and swelling and promote blood flow.

Lift the injured area above the heart’s level, to encourage blood flow, and reduce fluid gathering. 

Despite its long history, RICE has lost relevance in recent years.

These protocols address and minimise the pain and swelling resulting from strains, sprains, fractures, broken bones, or other injuries ASAP. 

However, many sports players may have grown accustomed to these practices, despite the fact that they don’t seem to be the holy grail of remedies when it comes to injuries that need prevention of swelling and pain. 

Despite the significant ground gained after the abbreviation was coined in 1978 by sports doctor Dr Gabe Mirkin, the concept got contested as years passed, and other findings were brought to life. 

Not even the theory developer is an ardent promotor of it today, having agreed that the whole set of practices may result in the opposite desired effect and postpone healing, which leads us to consider the more recently founded theory… 

The secret ingredient is MEAT:

Here’s a description of this method so you can better approach one or both ways: 

Contrary to old beliefs, light movement of the affected area is essential for a quick and adequate healing process. 
Gentle exercises transport fluid to and from the hurt structures and prevent scar tissue building.

It’s essential to resume the journey from where you left off with frequent exercise. You may not continue with the previous intensity levels straight away, but you’ll soon get back on your usual track. 

These are to be used when the pain is unbearable and needs medication for amelioration. 
If this is your case, seeking specialised help and following doctors’ recommendations is advised. 

Treatment can be a generic term. As a general rule, injured athletes are encouraged to reach out to a Physiotherapist for an adequate assessment and development of a treatment plan that will accelerate the healing journey. 

The theory is that through physical exercise, you help the damaged tissue to rebuild. 

When the manoeuvres stop hurting and creating discomfort, you can progressively amp up the exercises’ intensity levels. 

RICE can help at the moment but can postpone or prevent long-term tissue repair. 

MEAT is better for long-term recovery, though it shouldn’t be taken lightly but approached with common sense. 

The answer lies in personalisation

Every sport or fitness endeavour carries a risk of injuries, so there’s nothing to fret about but acknowledge the beneficial methods that can help you get back on track sooner rather than later. 

Both processes depicted above can provide short-term relief, but depending on the situation, they should often be intertwined for maximised results. 

Whether your injury necessitates MEAT, RICE, or any other fusion of techniques, consult a specialist if things are getting worse. 

Nothing’s set in stone, and personalisation is key for faster injury healing. Everyone’s body functions differently, and an inflexible approach can do more harm than good. 

As with nourishing meals, MEAT represents the main dish, while RICE accompanies it as its perfect side choice.