How to compress an injury to speed up recovery


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Rest, ice and elevation are easy enough to follow in the R.I.C.E. sequence, but how exactly does compression fit into injury recovery?

Compression is an important step when you’re nursing a new injury — such as a sprain, strain, or muscle or ligament tear — but it’s often neglected. And it shouldn’t be! Compressing an injury before elevating it localizes the swelling, prevents fluid from escaping into the tissue and aids in pain relief. If you don't compress, you could delay the healing process, which means less activity and more sitting on the couch feeling bad for yourself.  

ACE brand bandages are one the most inexpensive ways to compress an injury. Using one of their compression bandages, simply wrap the problem area so that it is snug — but not too tight — for 48 to 72 hours. (Talk to your doctor if you feel you need to wrap the injury longer.)

Wrapping a bandage too tightly can cut off your blood supply in that area. According to WebMD, signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness or swelling in the area below the bandage.

Learn proper wrapping techniques for your knee below and other key areas here:

Ice compression bandages allow you to ice and compress at the same time. They're more expensive than the average bandage but a great investment if you're injury-prone or play a rough sport.

There are lots of products on the market that have wraps for specific body parts. Check out brands like Hyper Ice, Cold One or the more modestly priced Dr Cool.