Follow the R-I-C-E strategy when treating aches, pains and strains

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The rise in temperatures across Western New York means an increase in fun outdoor activities such as baseball, soccer, golf, bicycling, gardening, jogging, etc. And with an increase in activity can come an increase in aches and pains.

Generally speaking, it is beneficial to use the R-I-C-E strategy — Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation — after suffering an injury such as spraining your ankle or wrenching your back, according to physical therapists Anthony Goode and Jeff Kirchmyer, co-owners of ProActive Sports Rehab in Hamburg and Orchard Park.

Rest: Rest and protect the affected area.

Ice: Cold will reduce acute pain and initial swelling. Apply ice to the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes. Do not place ice directly on the skin; use towels.

Compression: Using an elastic bandage, such as an Ace wrap, will help reduce swelling. However, it is important to not wrap the area too tight. You should be able to easily slide one or two fingers between the elastic bandage and the skin. A tight bandage may result in additional pain, numbness, tingling or swelling in the injured area.

Elevation: Use pillows to support the injured area while icing. It is important to position the injured area at or above heart level to help decrease swelling.

If you do not have a commercial cold pack handy, try this do-it-yourself cold pack:

• 2 cups of water
• 1 cup of rubbing alcohol
• 2 zip-top bags, quart or gallon size, or vacuum sealer bags

1. Mix the water and alcohol together in one of your zip-top bags. Release as much air as possible and seal the bag.
2. Double bag the first bag for strength; some people use a vacuum sealer to further prevent accidents. You can also use duct tape around the edges to help prevent leaks. 
3. Freeze for approximately 12 hours for a flexible and slushy homemade ice pack.

For more information on injuries requiring the services of a trained physical therapist, please contact ProActive Sports Rehab for a consultation. ProActive has offices at 4535 Southwestern Blvd. (Suites 805 and 806) in Hamburg and 240 Red Tail (Suites 3 and 4) in Orchard Park, in the Sterling Medical Park. They can be reached at 648-8700 (Hamburg) or 674-9600 (Orchard Park).

You can also visit or follow ProActive Sports Rehab on Facebook at for frequent updates.

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