Slips and trips - take care out there!

Winter is the time of year when many of us fall victim to slips and trips because of the icy weather and slippery conditions under foot.

Winter 2016 - take care out there

It is worth remembering two words when it comes to sprains and strain - PRICE and HARM.


PRICE = protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  • protection– protect the injured area from further injury, by using a support or, in the case of an ankle injury, wearing shoes that enclose and support your feet, such as lace-ups.
  • rest– stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injuring yourself.
  • ice– for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours during the day. Do not leave the ice on while you are asleep, and do not allow the ice to touch your skin directly because it could cause a cold burn.
  • compression– compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. You can use a crepe bandage or a simple elastic bandage available from a pharmacy. It should be wrapped snugly around the affected area but not so tightly that it restricts blood flow. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.
  • elevation– keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling. If your leg is injured, avoid having long periods of time where your leg is not raised.

Avoiding HARM

HARM = Heat, Alcohol, Running and Massage

Avoid HARM for the first 72 hours after a sprain or muscle strain.

  • heat– such as hot baths, saunas or heat packs (applying a controlled amount of heat to affected joints).
  • alcohol– drinking alcohol will increase bleeding and swelling and decrease healing.
  • running– or any other form of exercise that could cause more damage.
  • massage– which may increase bleeding and swelling.

Further information

NHS Choices has further information about how to manage strains and sprains at home.

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