Why is it needed?
Well long durations of rest can produce a detrimental effect on the body. It can change the way one walks and inhibit muscle growth and repair. Early activity means early recovery. However the key word is optimal and not to push through pain but to adopt a policy of weight-bearing as tolerated. For example you incorporate protection with this also in the use of appliances such as crutches, casts, braces to protect the area as it heals.
The use of ice is widely used in acute stages of injury. It produces a painkilling effect and helps to manage the immediate negative effects injury causes. However you may be surprised to learn that a reduction in swelling is not governed by ice application. Instead the important element here is compression.
The compression helps to reduce the available space for the fluid to accumulate and thus reduce swelling. This could be in the form of a compression bandage or tubigrip. Apply the ice for 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for as long as tolerated. This provides the skin a rest from constant cold but also more importantly this insures the tissue temperature depth has not risen to pre-treatment levels and thus provides more effective ice application than the traditional 20 minutes as the ice reaches warmer temperatures. Ice can be applied in a damp towel to help maintain this residual coldness.
Elevation will also help to reduce swelling through gravitational effects and can be combined with gentle exercise that aid circulation such as tracing the alphabet with your ankle.
As with all injuries if there is an increase in any negative effect such as pain or swelling it is best to get it assessed.
Here at Woodside Clinic, we have been treating Rugby players for over a decade and have good links to the local clubs.