Playing sports is a great way to stay active. It’s fun, it encourages socialisation and it teaches you a lot about work ethic and consistency.
Unfortunately, if you play a sport for long enough, you’re eventually going to run into injuries. If you’re not careful, you could end up causing permanent damage to your body. So, for the sake of your long-term health, it’s important that you know how to manage (and avoid) both minor and major injuries.
In this blog, we’re going to go over the most important things to consider when handling a sporting injury.
Understand the Type of Injury That You Have
When dealing with any sort of problem, it’s essential that you have a thorough understanding of the issue before you act.
With injuries, you need to know the main types. Common sporting injuries include ankle sprains, bruises, cuts, dehydration, concussions, nose injuries, stress fractures and more.
For common sprains, strains and joint injuries, most health organisations recommend the RICE approach. This means:
- Rest: Avoid activities that cause pain to the injured area.
- Ice: Put ice on the injured area for 20 minutes every two hours. Do this for the next two or three days.
- Compression: Place elastic bandages around the injured area to stop the swelling.
- Elevation: Raise the injured area above the level of your heart to further reduce swelling.
Once you’ve taken these measures, make sure to see a health professional as soon as possible.
It’s also important to remember that applying heat or putting stress on the injured area (i.e., by exercising or massaging) might exacerbate the injury. Consuming alcohol might also make the injury worse.
Understand Emergency Situations
With some injuries, it’s painfully obvious that an urgent medical aid is necessary. However, there are other forms of injury that some people might downplay.
You need to make sure to call an ambulance for the following types of injuries:
- Abdominal injuries
- Eye injuries
- Head or face injuries
- Broken bones
- Neck or spine injuries
- Loss of consciousness
It’s important to remember that some serious injuries may not show obvious symptoms. For example, a concussion can occur without the person losing consciousness. Bleeding and bruising may also be absent. Because of this, you need to be extremely careful when dealing with injuries that involve the head and the neck.
Address Mental and Psychological Issues
If you play sports competitively or if you take your physical fitness seriously, an injury can cause a lot of mental and psychological problems. You start to wonder if you’ll ever be able to play at a certain level again. You might even consider changing your sport of choice out of fear of suffering another injury.
It’s important to recognise that these thoughts and feelings are normal. Even after you’ve fully recovered, you may still have lingering doubts. It may help to talk to your coach, teammates or even just your loved ones about these concerns.
On a more practical side, you should also set realistic goals when you get back into action. Setting SMART goals is a great way to ease back into your normal routine. SMART stands for:
- Specific: ‘I will aim to train boxing two days a week.’
- Measurable: ‘I will aim to last eight three-minute rounds of sparring.’
- Attainable: ‘I have done twelve rounds before and therefore I can do eight’
- Relevant: ‘I’m looking to compete in boxing and want to continue training.’
- Time-bound: ‘Given the doctor’s recommendations, I will give myself three months to get back into my pre-injury shape.’
Know How to Prevent Injuries
Once you’ve made it to the other side, you need to educate yourself on how to prevent injuries in the future. Here is a list tips on prevent sporting injuries:
- Do appropriate stretches and warm up properly before playing
- Wear the proper equipment and clothing
- Drink a lot of water
- Gradually increase intensity and duration
- Give yourself enough time for recovery after training
- Maintain your health in other aspects of your life (conditioning, diet, sleep, etc.)
- Have regular check-ups with health professionals like GPs, physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc.
Sometimes, the hardest challenge in sports is being patient. When we get injured, we just want to get back out there and dive into our regular routine. However, for the sake of your long-term health, it’s essential that you take your time and allow your body to work its magic and heal itself.