RICE is an approach that one can use to relieve pain, reduce swelling when an injury to muscles, knees, ankles etc, to minimize the impact of the injury, promote healing. It stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, see information on WebMD for detailed discussion.
Last Sunday, I felt my right calf being pulled as I was slow down to conclude my 5 mile run. No real pain just calf tightness. So I did not pay too much attention to it.
I was OK on Monday. I did feel that the tightness in my right calf. One more night sleep, the tightness in the injured calf was almost gone. I had my usual after-lunch jogging - no pain. Another night rest, I did not feel the tightness on my right calf, and I decided to continue my routine runs - instead of 5 mile run, I ran 5K, and ran much slower that usual. At the end of the run I felt right calf tightness again - but I could walk home without much discomfort.
When I stepped out of my car that morning at the parking lot at work, after about 30 minute drive, I really felt discomfort and tightness in my right calf as my weight shifted from left foot to right. I limped to my office!
My colleagues notice my limping, and they introduced me to R.I.C.E.
Upon reading, it is obvious that my symptom is really mild: no pain, no obvious swelling - so I do not need ice, I do apply compression or massage the right calf - which reduce the tightness there, I elevate my right leg a bit.
The most important part of RICE for me is REST, preventing stretching the muscle again before it fully heals. I learned the lesson the hard way - I restarted my running too soon, and my symptom worsened.
The recommended rest period for a mild calf strain (pulled calf) is 2 ~ 3 weeks. The real criterion to return to exercise is pain free, discomfort free with the the injured calf. The return to full strength schedule should be gradual - a calf workout may help, which include foot pump, seated calf raises and standing calf raise. Any exercise that cause pain should be stopped immediately.
Consistent running provides tremendous benefits, but got to RICE when any injuries occur.