Sports injuries may occur when playing / performing any indoor or outdoor sports. They can result from accidents, inadequate training, improper use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or warm-up exercises. The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains, fractures and dislocations.
The most common 1st line treatment recommended for injury is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).
- Rest: Avoid activities that may cause injury.
- Ice: Ice packs can be applied to the injured area, which will help reduce swelling and pain. Ice should be applied over a towel on the affected area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for several days. Never place ice directly over the skin.
- Compression: Compression of the injured area also helps reduce swelling. Elastic wraps, air casts and splints can accomplish this.
- Elevation: Elevate the injured part above your heart level to reduce swelling and pain.
Some of the measures that are followed to prevent sports-related injuries include:
- Follow an exercise program to strengthen the muscles.
- Gradually increase your exercise level and avoid overdoing the exercise.
- Ensuring that you wear appropriate, properly-fitted equipment e.g. gumshields, appropriate foot wear will help reduce the chances of injury.
- Make sure that you follow warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after the sports activity. This will help stretch muscles, increase flexibility and reduce soft tissue injuries.
- Avoid exercising immediately after eating a large meal.
- Maintain a healthy diet, which will nourish the muscles.
- Avoid playing when you are injured or tired. Take a break for some time after playing.
- Ensure that you are physically fit enough to play the sport.
If the symptoms do not settle after a few days then it is better to seek professional help from either your GP, local sports doctor or physiotherapist. If there was significant pain at the time of the injury – especially if there was any sensation of popping / cracking or ‘separation’ of the joint - and associated significant swelling then it is best to attend your local Accident and Emergency department or contact a knee surgeon directly.