RICE and MICE for Soft Tissue Injuries
It is well known that if you get and injury to a muscle that you should use RICE. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. If you follow this procedure it can significantly reduce the time it takes to recover and be back running.
This is fairly obvious - just don't do anything! Try not do too much of anything - even exercise that doesn't affect the injured area. This is because you want to avoid damaging the muscle further and also if you are resting your body will extra energy available to repair the injury.
Anything frozen can be used for this (not so cold that it sticks to your skin!), such as ice, ice pack, frozen peas (a favourite in the past!). You are trying to reduce the blood flow to the area and hence avoid too much swelling through injured tissue. If your skin starts to go pink, then you should remove the ice for a few minutes as you are actually pulling in extra blood to the area. Re-apply a few minutes later. (Period of 5-10 minutes of ice at a time should be adequate, depending on the size of the muscle affected.)
If you have a tubi-grip type bandage or other something else to wrap around the injury site, that will also help reduce swelling and speed up the recovery time.
As with the previous two points, by lifting the injured area (ideally above the height of the heart) you'll reduce swelling and the amount of recovery time needed for that to go down as you heal. If the injury is in your leg - literally put your feet up! (a pillow under them whilst you are sleeping is great).
Depending on the severity of the injury, after a period of time you should move from RICE onto MICE, this is where you replace Rest with Mobilisation. Although this period varies, it is generally not as long as you might imagine as the sooner you can start moving the area concerned, the sooner you can return to normal activity.
In a minor injury you could expect to be able to start mobilisation after 24 hours, double this for a more serious one.
This can take a number of forms, all of which should be done without any sharp pain, which would be further damage to the injury. If this occurs stop immediately and return to RICE. However, the levels of exercise you undertake at this point should be extremely gentle so you shouldn't do any significant further damage.
If you can do so try to walk around as normal, using your muscles in the way they are meant to be used. A limp can easily lead to compensatory injuries to other areas and prolong the amount of time you are out for.
Try some light static stretching of the area concerned. Again, any pain, stop immediately and ice the injury.
After the initial period of RICE, you would ideally go and see a physiotherapist or sports masseur who would assess the injury and give you guidance on your rehabilitation. It is only after this initial period that they will be able to treat you as, otherwise, they might cause more damage to the injury. Removal of scar tissue which forms when injuries occur is one of the key things they will help you with here to prevent future occurances. They may also be able to help you with strength or mobility imbalance, which will further reduce the injury risk.
Once rehabilitation is well under way, you should look at strengthening the area that was injured, as the injury will have caused weakness and also it may be that it was caused by an inherent weakness in the first place. A physio / masseur will be able to advise you on this, but you can also use common sense to work out the muscle that was damaged.
Repeat Injuries to Site
Seek professional help. It will cost a few pounds to do this, but in the long run is well worth it.