RICE – Rest, ice, compression, elevation for torn muscles

A stabbing pain, a small bump on the affected area – a torn muscle is one of the most common sports injuries. But what happens inside the body, and what can you do while the situation is acute?

Torn muscles

Our muscles are made up of bundles of muscle fibres (fascicles) and blood vessels. The smaller units of the muscle fascicles are muscle fibres or muscle cells. When you tear a muscle, some of these muscle fibres are torn.

Depending on the severity of the injury, only very few or a lot of fibres can be affected. If a muscle is completely torn, all the fibres in the muscle are torn. A torn muscle is often accompanied by bruising if the blood vessels in the muscle have also been damaged.

Sometimes, you can also feel the point at which the muscle fibres have been torn because the muscle fibres there are taut like an elastic band. After a muscle tear, both ends of the fibre retract, which results in a “gap”.

Fast action is imperative

But what should you do if you tear a muscle? The RICE method enables you to take direct action. The RICE method comprises the following first aid measures:

  • Rest: Stop training and sit down.
  • Ice: Apply a cool pad or ice pack to the affected area.
  • Compression: Bandage the painful area.
  • Elevation: Raise the affected part of the body (arm, leg).

Once you have applied first aid, you should consult a doctor. The doctor may recommend a special tape that can support the affected muscle, thus aiding the healing process. You should forget about doing any sport for a while. It can take up to six weeks for a torn muscle to heal completely.