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Out with RICE, in with MEAT; injury treatment recommendations.

Updated: 5 days ago

Ice and heat therapy have been used for centuries as a way to reduce pain and inflammation following an injury. The use of ice, also known as cryotherapy, can help to reduce swelling and numb pain by constricting blood vessels. Heat therapy, on the other hand, can help to relax muscles and increase blood flow to the injured area, promoting healing.

In the past, it was common practice to use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression,

Physio@Home heat therapy microbead pack

Elevation) following an injury to reduce pain and inflammation. However, recent research has suggested that the MEAT method (Movement, Exercise, Analgesics, Treatment) may be more effective in promoting healing and pain modulation.

The MEAT method recommends early movement and exercise to promote blood flow and tissue healing, as well as the use of analgesics to help manage pain. This approach emphasizes the importance of not resting too much following an injury, as long periods of inactivity can actually delay healing.


The act of moving your injured area increases blood flow to promote healing. Plus, a small amount of stress on injured ligaments supports stronger tissue growth. So it’s best to move your injured area as much as the pain will allow while protecting it from impact that could cause damage.

Exercise therapy lunge form strength


As your injury begins to heal, you’ll be able to move it more and start exercises to help the healing process continue. This could be a great time for you to work with a physical therapist. Physical therapy has many benefits for all types of injuries, even those that are more minor or acute.


Analgesics are medicines that can reduce pain and stress to help your body heal from injury. Managing pain is an important part of recovery because if you feel prolonged, intense pain, it will be harder to move your injury. Pain can also cause limping and other changes in movement that can impact the quality of your sleep and affect your overall health. For some injuries, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help for short-term use, and other injuries may require different pain relief options recommended by your doctor.

Therapy (or Treatment)

Completely recovering from any injury takes time and attention. As part of therapy, your physical therapist will assess your injury, health history and goals to create a treatment plan for you. This could include several therapy methods, including:

physiotherapist shoulder pain therapy arm lift

While both ice and heat therapy have their benefits, it is important to use them at the appropriate times during the healing process. Ice therapy is most effective during the initial stages of an injury (24-72 hours after) to reduce swelling and inflammation, while MEAT therapy can be beneficial once the initial inflammation has subsided to promote healing.

If your minor injury isn't better in a couple days, make an appointment with a physiotherapist to provide additional support and treatment options.

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