Injury Recovery: Ditch the RICE, Your Soft Tissue Injuries Actually Need PEACE and LOVE

RICE is out, PEACE and LOVE are in!

Injury recovery is a topic that has attracted plenty of debate in recent years, with expert opinion evolving in a number of ways. As the number of people participating in strenuous endurance running grows, so does the importance of educating those people on the optimal steps for recovery.

This is particularly pertinent when it comes to soft tissue injuries, which require a detailed plan of management and rehabilitation. Today, we’ll consider how PEACE & LOVE can bring positive results and help you get back to full fitness as soon as possible.

In this article, we’ll take you through exactly what the PEACE & LOVE process includes (and how it differs from the accepted RICE protocols), explaining how this more thorough approach to recovery can help you become stronger, more resilient, and more speedy in your return to running post-injury.

We will cover:

  • How the RICE recovery method falls short,
  • How PEACE can assist you in the immideate steps after an injury,
  • How LOVE can help boost your recovery game,
  • And the performance enhancing benefits of this revamped recovery method.

Ready to learn how to supercharge your recovery?

Let’s get into it!

Injury Recovery Ditch The RICE Your Soft Tissue Injuries Actually Need PEACE And LOVE

What’s The Problem With RICE And Other Recovery Methods?

Back in the day, the magic formula for dealing with soft tissue injuries was ICE (Ice, Compression, Elevation). This developed into RICE, then PRICE (with the addition of Protection and Rest to the acronym).

However, these recipes for recovery have missed a crucial ingredient.

Despite being hugely popular, these previous acronyms fail to acknowledge the complexity of soft tissue injury recovery. They tend to over-focus on acute management, while largely ignoring the subacute and chronic stages of tissue healing.

Unlike PEACE & LOVE, previous acronyms also fail to put emphasis on the education of injured athletes.

It’s important that endurance runners are aware of the effects each recovery stage has on the body so that they can ensure they run through the rehabilitation process in a sensible, organized, and healthy way.

Related: Post Marathon Recovery: 13 Expert Tips For A Fast Recuperation

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While it’s clearly necessary for soft tissue injuries to receive several steps of immediate care and support, the importance of following this with the addition of some more active stages of recovery cannot be overstated.

That’s why new research suggests that runners should adopt a new formula: PEACE & LOVE.

This rehabilitation process comes down to two key areas: immediate care (PEACE), and subsequent management (LOVE).

What Does PEACE Stand For?

Immediately after injuring yourself, your recovery should be guided by PEACE.

PEACE stands for Protect, Elevate, Avoid Anti-Inflammatories, Compress, and Educate.

And while that title encapsulates the calm atmosphere you want to aim for, it also includes some work on the part of the athlete. Let’s go through each step of this first process.

P For Protect

Try to unload or restrict movement for 1-3 days.

This will protect your injury by minimizing bleeding and reducing the risk of aggravation. However, don’t overdo it; prolonged rest can risk compromising tissue strength and quality. Listen to your body, and end the Protect period when your pain levels decrease.

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E For Elevate

There’s not actually much evidence to suggest that elevation helps, but given its low risk-to-benefit ratio, it’s worth taking this step.

Spend some time elevating the injured limb above the heart in order to encourage the flow of interstitial fluid out of tissues.

A For Avoid Anti-Inflammatories

Inflammation is an important part of the recovery process.

Using anti-inflammatory medication can actually have a negative effect on long-term tissue recovery, especially when higher doses are used. In the same vein, it’s often wise not to use ice when healing soft-tissue injuries. You can find more on that here.

C For Compress

Using tape or bandages to compress soft-tissue injuries can have a positive impact on the healing process, reducing swelling and improving quality of life.

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E For Educate

Many people don’t realize the benefits of an active approach to recovery.

Instead of using passive modalities like acupuncture or electrotherapy, educate yourself about the risks of overtreatment and the rewards of simply being patient, sensible, and methodical in your recovery.

Why Should I Show My Injury LOVE?

Okay, so we’ve been through the essential steps you should take in the immediate aftermath of a soft-tissue injury. But what about the longer term?

After the first few days have passed, you need to give your injury some LOVE.

LOVE stands for Load, Optimism, Vascularisation, and Exercise.

This stage of recovery is about transitioning from rest and protection to more active and aerobic forms of rehabilitation. Let’s work through the four steps that this stage of the acronym includes.

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L For Load

Movement and exercise are highly beneficial in the treatment of most soft-tissue injuries. As soon as symptoms allow, athletes should try to resume normal activities and begin building tissue tolerance and strength.

O For Optimism

Psychological factors play a bigger role in recovery than some people might think. In one observational study, beliefs and emotions were found to have more of an impact on the variation in symptoms following an ankle sprain than physiological factors.

V For Vascularisation

Cardiovascular activity is crucial to the management of musculoskeletal injuries.

Getting stuck into some pain-free aerobic exercise a few days after injury will boost motivation, increase blood flow and reduce the need for pain medication.

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E For Exercise

In order to properly treat soft-tissue injuries and reduce the prevalence of recurrent injuries, exercise after a few days is absolutely necessary.

Clearly, you shouldn’t jump straight back into your old routine; but by getting back into a healthy variety of different exercises, runners can start restoring mobility, strength, and kinaesthesia early after injury.

You will have noticed that the general thrust of this second stage of recovery is: Get active!

By stretching yourself, resuming physical activity, and putting light loads on your injured limb, you’ll start to rebuild strength and quicken your recovery.

It’s also crucial to maintain a positive attitude during this period.

Mental strength and inner motivation will go a long way when it comes to getting you back to full fitness. Our article on the 18 most encouraging running mantras goes into this issue in even more depth.

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How Can PEACE & LOVE improve my performance?

Managing soft-tissue injuries is about way more than just short-term damage control. That’s why the second stage of the PEACE & LOVE process is so important.

But what benefits can be found in applying these principles when in rehabilitation? And can long-term performance be enhanced by sticking to this recovery formula?

A healthy combination of rest and active training, and a careful approach to both short-term and long-term recovery methods can help you maximize performance in the long run.

By closely managing your recovery process and finding a rehabilitative balance that takes into account the various Dos and Don’ts of soft tissue injury recovery, you can help yourself come back better, stronger, and more educated when it comes to how your body works.

However, while PEACE & LOVE neatly sums up the fundamentals of soft-tissue injury recovery, it’s important to note that this formula cannot be applied to all injuries. Ultimately, different problems call for different solutions.

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For that reason, it’s important to accurately identify the particular injury you have, and make sure you adapt your recovery methods accordingly. For more detail on the range of techniques that can be used in rehabilitation, check out our article on recovery techniques to fight sore legs after running.

Let’s recap: a pEACE and LOVE overview

You should now have a pretty good idea of what the PEACE & LOVE approach is all about, and how it can help you recover with efficiency, resilience and positivity.

Using a combination of these two techniques in recovery will make favourable long-term outcomes much more likely. We’ve covered a lot of information in this article, so before we go, let’s quickly recap the essentials of the PEACE & LOVE rehab process.

Immediately after sustaining a soft tissue injury, take these steps:

  • Protect by resting and restricting movement for 1-3 days
  • Elevate the injured limb to increase interstitial fluid flow
  • Avoid anti-inflammatories
  • Compress using tape or bandages
  • Educate yourself about the benefits of an active approach to recovery
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After taking these initial steps, it’s time to launch the LOVE stage of rehabilitation and start taking on some light movement and strain. Here are the four steps to follow:

  • Load your body gently to start rebuilding strength
  • Maintain an optimistic attitude
  • Engage in cardiovascular activity
  • Exercise, and start gradually building towards your normal routine

Separating your recovery process into these two distinct periods will help you remain present-minded and keep your focus on doing everything you can in the short term to help you succeed in the long term.

While giving your body time to recover is absolutely crucial when it comes to minimising the serious risks of overtraining, you shouldn’t let this knowledge stop you from getting back into some light exercise and load as soon as you aren’t restricted by painful symptoms.

For more information on how to encourage successful recovery from endurance running, take a look at our comprehensive Marathon Training Recovery Guide. Good luck with your rehabilitation!

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Fred is a London-based writer who works for several sport, fitness and wellness sites. He's a keen runner and amateur footballer, who also writes regularly for Jobs In Football and follows his side Norwich City home and away.

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