When playing any sport you can get acute sports injuries such as cuts or sprains that result from accidental or deliberate sudden impacts or awkward movements. These kinds of injuries are relatively tricky to avoid. However there are many common sports injuries such as hamstring strains that can be avoided as they are often the result of:
- Failing to warm up properly
- Inadequate technique
- Improper use of equipment
- Not taking proper safety precautions
Sports injuries can occur all over the body, with muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones all prone to such injuries.
What should you do if you suffer a sports injury?
In the early stage after suffering an injury you should abstain from doing anything that triggers your pain in the first two or three days. Thereafter the idea is that a degree of movement is necessary to prevent other problems from arising.
Ice or heat?
For the first 48 hours after injury heat – including deep heat rubs – should be avoided as the heat encourages bleeding. In the first 48 hours after a traumatic injury (sprains, muscle tears, bruising) ice can help bring down swelling and alieve pain.
When the natural ‘heat’ comes out of your injury you can use heat packs. 20 minute applications several times a day give you a great chance of recovering more quickly. If anything feels overly strange or symptoms get worse then a visit to your GP or local physio is in order.
Compression bandages – yes or no?
In general – in the early stages of injury compression bandages can be helpful. The way they can help is to help control swelling and bruising. The support to the injury can help to reduce pain. Try to get advice from a qualified, registered sports physio on which type of support will be best.
Let gravity do its part
Elevation in the first few days after injury is a great tool. Gravity ensures that swelling settles at the lowest point. As a general rule, think of where your heart is and try to rest your injury above that point where possible.
Pain killers and anti-inflammatories can be helpful but it is always worth checking with your GP for advice on specific drugs.
When to start physiotherapy?
Research shows that early intervention yields the best results. After the rest phase of several days physiotherapeutic techniques have been shown to be of great benefit in shortening the recovery time. How does physio help? Physiotherapy gets to work on your sports injury by:
- Using joint mobility techniques, electrotherapy and massage to help relieve pain
- Guiding the formation of scar tissue to areas that are beneficial for recovery
- Strengthening and loosening the injured areas with bespoke exercise programmes
- Improving your performance when returning to sport by highlighting and working to correct biomechanical faults that may be impeding your performance and affecting likelihood of repeat injury.
What if I just leave it?
Research is unanimous in finding that untreated sports injuries take longer to heal. In addition there is an increased risk of recurrence and being left with lingering muscle weakness and / or joint stiffness. Symptoms that last longer than three months can become ingrained and much more difficult to resolve.