I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I tried to jump on the fitness train early in life, but through bad luck kept getting exactly the wrong advice on how to go about it.
I remember passages in the book on the hazards of athletes lifting weights, with tennis players and golfers were quoted, mourning how it just flat messed up their games, and really, you should just do your sport (drops to knees, with thunder pealing, as camera pulls away overhead, “Damn You, Mirkiiiiiin!”)
I fell for that crap like a drunken roofer, another bunch of years without weight training for me.
The one soft tissue injury I got when young that stands out was a twisted ankle, hurt it at school, later both my parents were out for the evening. I was reduced to literally crawling around the house in agony, when the folks got home they put a ‘hydroculator’ pad (a thick soft pad you’d heat up by putting in a pot of water) on it, and by morning this damp heat had totally taken the pain away. I shudder to think what an icepack would have done.
When I began my martial arts studies with Sifu Charles Chi, the teacher I wish I’d started with at 16 instead of that dumpster fire of a school I did go to (where they also told me to avoid weights, and left me weak as a kitten, jeez, I’ve had some bad breaks,) I found that not only was he a master of Chinese, Thai, and Filipino arts as well as boxing, but also an accomplished acupuncturist and herbalist.
On the subject of RICE, without hesitation he barked out “Bulls--t! Rest, ice, compression, elevation, are you kidding me? We do heat, massage, and movement!” He was right, and that’s what I’ve done since.
In Chinese medicine, cold is seen as having a ‘stagnating’ effect, like a logjam in a river. Bad stuff doesn’t get out, good stuff can’t get in. Localized heat in the area may go down, but the swelling, pain and disfunction stay longer.
The legendary Dick Hartzell, inventor of Jumpstretch bands and PT Strength Strips, has spent the last 30 years treating joints this way, and has written a book (‘Don’t Ice That Sprained Ankle’) on the subject. I’ve seen real-time video of him treating a sprained ankle, not only taking the inflammation away, but having the athlete running again in 15 minutes.
He’s treated many thousands of ankles with his protocol, and has a standing $10K challenge to pit his method against RICE in a treatment clinic or ER. He got ripped off by a business partner, so he could use the money, so if you’re a RICE fan, give him a call.
And if you’re wondering if I’m saying that all those multi-million dollar baseball pitchers and football running backs icing their injured elbows and knees are screwing themselves up worse, yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Listen, ice is cheap, and fairly...low-tech. I would use it if I thought it worked. But I’ve fixed many ankles, knees, elbows...joints that weren’t getting better because their well-meaning owners kept slapping on the bag of frozen peas.
Skeptics make fun of people who say Chinese medicine is good because it’s old, and I think they’re right: I don’t do it ‘cause it’s old (and it evolves constantly anyway, but that’s another post), I do it because it works. Well, RICE is now a venerable practice, almost 40, and you have a lot of people still doing it because that’s the Old Way.
There’s a better way.