Sprained Ankle? Ditch the Ice!

by Hon Lee on June 25, 2014


R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is an acronym used in the first aid treatment of many injuries such as contusions, sprains, strains, dislocations or uncomplicated fractures.

1. Rest the injured part. We intuitively know that continued activity could cause further damage, even though many people don’t give their bodies sufficient time to mend. This is especially true for committed athletes and serious martial arts practitioners. By exercising when they should be resting they’re not only delaying full recovery, but also weakening the injured part and making it prone to future injuries.


2. It’s common practice to apply Ice in the first 24 to 48 hours of an acute injury, stops internal hemorrhaging of blood vessels and capillaries. Cold contracts the blood vessels to decreases inflammation and the amount of blood from collecting around the damaged site. However, while Chinese medicine practitioners use cold herbal compresses. poultices and liniments, we avoid using ice, believing that it’s too shocking to the system, causes Qi and Blood Stagnation, and contracts the muscles and sinews. In addition, according to Chinese medicine theory, it can cause long term “cold damp obstruction” because cold seeps into the bones, resulting in arthritis.

Tom Bisio, a martial artist and Chinese medicine practitioner, in his excellent book A Tooth From The Tiger’s Mouth, recommends using San Huang San instead of ice. Bisio calls it herbal ice and provides 6-ingredient recipe in his book on how to make and use it. The book should be of interest to anyone interested in healing everyday injuries. And for martial arts fans, he has a section of brewing Dit Da Jow!

3. Compression limits the accumulation of blood near the site of injury to decrease swelling.

4. Elevating the injured part, above heart level if possible, helps decrease swelling.


Hon K. Lee is a Licensed Acupuncturist in Herndon, VA., and the founder of Sports Edge Acupuncture Clinic. He is also an author, teacher, martial arts instructor, qigong practitioner and a U.S. Marine combat veteran. Proceeds from the sale of his memoirs go to charities that benefit wounded warriors and their families.

Hon Lee – who has written posts on Acupuncture Herndon, VA.

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Sports Edge Acupuncture Clinic
1033 Sterling Rd #105, Herndon, VA 20170
Phone: 571-306-0533


Serving Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Northern Virginia..

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