Rest. For most injuries, rest the area until the pain decreases. For simple sore muscles, however, gentle stretching will reduce stiffness more quickly. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then rest and repeat five to 10 times. Do this several times a day.
Ice. Ice is the most effective treatment for reducing inflammation, pain and swelling of injured muscles, joints and connective tissues—such as tendons, ligaments, and bursas. The cold helps keep blood and fluid from building up in the injured area, reducing pain and swelling. Apply ice as soon as possible after injury, even if you are going straight to the doctor. To speed recovery and ease pain, raise the injured area and apply ice for 20 minutes (10 to 15 minutes in children) every two to three hours while awake. For best results, place crushed ice in a plastic bag and wrap with a moist towel. Use an elastic bandage to hold the pack in place. During the first 48 to 72 hours, or as long as there is any swelling, do not apply heat to an injury. Heat increases blood flow to the affected area, which makes swelling and pain worse.
Compress. Between icings, wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage to help control swelling and provide support. Begin wrapping at the farthest point away from the body and wrap toward the heart. For example, to wrap an ankle you would begin at the toes and wrap to the mid-calf. Don't sleep with the wrap on, unless told to do so by a doctor. And don't wrap too tightly! If the wrap begins to cause pain or numbness, or if toes become cool or white, remove the elastic bandage and wrap it more loosely.
Elevate. Raising the injured area above your heart will allow gravity to help reduce swelling by draining excess fluid. At night, place a pillow under the area to support and raise it.