The M.E.A.T. of Healing Injuries
Most parents have heard the acronym R.I.C.E — rest, ice, compression, and elevation — following an injury. It might surprise you to know that this once gold-standard treatment has become somewhat outdated because complete rest and ice may delay healing. One of the newer trends for faster recovery is M.E.A.T. — movement, exercise, analgesics and treatment. Physical Therapist Ken Breath with OrthoCarolina Huntersville says that inflammation is actually critical for soft tissue repair or regeneration of muscle cells because it triggers certain hormones and cells to the site.
It’s OK to apply ice for five minutes or less to control immediate pain after an injury until the area is numb. The appropriate window for short-term icing is the first six hours following an injury, again with the primary intention of pain control. Exercise and gentle movement are the best ways to increase blood flow to soft tissues, allowing increased nutrients and oxygen to be delivered to muscle creating a faster recovery. If after 24 hours, the injury is without swelling then heat is OK and exercise is encouraged.
Seek ongoing professional treatment for injuries that are not improving, weakness that remains once pain settles, or if the child is unable to return to activities without pain or compensations.