It’s all fun and games till someone gets hurt—no surprise this applies largely to sports as well. A serious injury incurred, but improperly and untimely handled while engaging in sports could ruin a typical Sunday afternoon, cause health complications or even prematurely terminate a professional sports career. While they are largely inevitable, injuries can be properly managed by first respondents on site before pro medical help arrives.
Sports injuries are commonly caused by overuse, direct impact, or the application of force that is greater than the body part can structurally withstand. There are two kinds of sports injuries: acute and chronic. An injury that occurs suddenly, such as a sprained ankle caused by an awkward landing, is known as an acute injury.
Chronic injuries are caused by repeated overuse of muscle groups or joints. Poor technique and structural abnormalities can also contribute to the development of chronic injuries. Medical investigation of any sports injury is important, because you may be hurt more severely than you think. For example, what seems like an ankle sprain may actually be a bone fracture.
Common injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, joint injuries and nose bleeds. Medical investigation is important, as leaving an injury untreated can have far more severe consequences.
We’ll be looking at the first aid treatments for some common sport injuries below:
First aid for sprains, strains and joint injuries
Suggestions on immediate treatment for sprains, strains and joint injuries, to prevent further damage include:
- Rest – keep the injured area supported and avoid using for 48-72 hours.
- Ice – apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes every two hours for the first 48-72 hours.
- Compression – apply a firm elastic bandage over the area, extending above and below the painful site.
- Elevation – raise the injured area above the level of the heart at all times.
- Referral – as soon as possible, see a doctor.
- No Heat – heat will increase bleeding.
- No Alcohol – alcohol increases bleeding and swelling.
- No Running – running or exercise increases blood flow, delaying healing.
- No Massage – massage increases swelling and bleeding, also delaying healing.
First Aid for Cuts and Abrasions
Cuts and abrasions can easily occur as the result of a fall while running, biking, rollerblading, or participating in any fitness activity. Bleeding or open wounds can vary from minor scrapes, blisters, and small punctures to more serious lacerations and arterial wounds that can be life-threatening.
Abrasion-type wounds can be washed with soap and water. Contaminated abrasions (scrapes that have particles of debris embedded in them) may need to be treated in a hospital with irrigation under pressure in order to remove foreign particles. Once the wound is washed and bandaged, you can also apply ice and pressure to manage any related bruising or swelling.
Deeper cuts may need medical attention. Immediate first aid can include applying direct pressure, followed by elevation and application of a pressure bandage. If you are unable to control the bleeding, seek immediate medical care.
If someone near you is injured, it’s important to take proper protective measures to avoid disease transmission. Personal protective equipment, such as latex or rubber gloves afford protection when controlling bleeding, performing bandaging, and when handling soiled or bloody bandages or instruments.
First aid for nose bleeds
- Stop the activity.
- Sit with your head leaning forward.
- Pinch your nostrils together and breathe through your mouth.
- Hold your nose for at least 10 minutes.
- If bleeding continues past 30 minutes, seek medical advice.
Call an ambulance for:
- prolonged loss of consciousness
- neck or spine injuries
- broken bones
- injuries to the head or face
- eye injuries
- abdominal injuries.
Treatment for sports injuries
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury. Always see your doctor if pain persists after a couple of days. You could book a session with us as well for further medical investigation. What you may think is a straightforward sprain may actually be a fractured bone.
Physiotherapy (which we also offer) can help to rehabilitate the injured site and, depending on the injury, may include exercises to promote strength and flexibility. Returning to sport after injury depends on your doctor’s or physiotherapist’s assessment.
Trying to play before the injury is properly healed will only cause further damage and delay recovery. The biggest single risk factor for soft tissue injury is a previous injury. While the injury heals, you can maintain your fitness by choosing forms of exercise that don’t involve that part of your body, if possible.
Prevention of sports injuries
You can reduce your risk of sports injuries if you:
- Warm up thoroughly by gently going through the motions of your sport and performing slow, sustained stretches.
- Wear appropriate footwear.
- Tape or strap vulnerable joints, if necessary.
- Use the appropriate safety equipment, such as mouth guards, helmets and pads.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after the game.
- Try to avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day, between 11 am and 3 pm.
- Maintain a good level of overall fitness, particularly in the off season (in the months between playing seasons for a sport).
- Cross-train with other sports to ensure overall fitness and muscle strength.
- Ensure training includes appropriate speed and impact work so muscles are capable of the demands of a game situation.
- Don’t exert yourself beyond your level of fitness. Gradually increase intensity and duration of training.
- Use good form and technique.
- Cool down after sport with gentle, sustained stretches.
- Allow adequate recovery time between sessions.
- Have regular medical check-ups.
Lastly, always remember to prioritize your health and safety above going the extreme just to secure a victory in a game. You should consider it a personal win to emerge from each game unscathed and fit. If you are unsure about the severity of a sports injury, play it safe and seek medical care. An ounce of caution may prevent a manageable condition from getting out of control. Should you need help in treating or diagnosing a sports injury, kindly contact us at the Calgary Family Clinic for optimal care.