All good Sports Therapists will know how to treat Soft Tissue Injuries using the RICE, PRICE, PRICER or PRICED principles:

  • Protect
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • (Refer)
  • (Doctor)

How many though, are aware of the new protocol using the POLICE acronym which has been adopted by many health professionals since it was published in BJSM in 2012 (though used by many professional sports therapists for many years).

What does POLICE stand for?

  • Protect
  • Optimal Loading
  • ICE
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Now Optimal Loading doesn’t mean getting someone to use maximal force through an injured limb straight away and some people do think that includes things such as massage therapy and strength training, which I would be dubious about teaching or using in a treatment, but what it does mean in my opinion, and what I have been teaching for years, is that careful mechanical loading during the inflammatory stage can have a positive influence on healing.

Note the word careful here, it should be done in a controlled manner.  Optimal Loading can mean the use of gentle manual therapy such as Soft Tissue Mobilisation as well as (in the case of lower limb injuries) walking aids.

Remember also the HARM acronym!  What to avoid;

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Running (Exercise)
  • Massage

Using the HARM protocol in conjunction with POLICE means that really, you aren’t going to make the injury any worse.  For those who think that Optimal Loading in an Acute Injury means strength training and massage this means you.