Though sports and exercise can result in injuries, sport remains a vital part of the Australian lifestyle. It promotes good health, stress relief and social connections. Plus, it’s fun!
Less fun are sporting injuries that can put you out of the game and even have longer term impacts on your lifestyle. Fortunately, most injuries can be treated, managed and even prevented by interventions such as physiotherapy, remedial massage and exercise physiology.
What goes wrong?
Most sporting injuries result from a direct blow (bruise or contusion) or an indirect force like a twist (sprains, strains and tears). Some injuries are due to over-use stresses (tendonitis or stress fractures).
Common sports injuries include:
- ligament sprains
- joint injuries
- overuse injuries
How can you minimise injury?
Prevention is definitely better than any cure so make sure you protect yourself before you hit the track, field or gym, with:
- correct warm up and warm down procedures
- protective strapping or bracing
- the right footwear and sporting equipment
- specific conditioning for your particular sport
- good aerobic fitness
What should you do after an injury?
If, despite your best efforts, you do sustain a sporting injury, there are a few things you should do. As soon as possible, and for 72 hours after injury, use the RICE method:
- Rest – take it easy and only move within your limit of pain.
- Ice – as soon as possible, and for 20 minutes every two hours, apply ice or a frozen gel pack wrapped in a damp towel. This helps to control bleeding and pain whilst reducing secondary tissue damage.
- Compression – firmly bandage the entire ankle and lower shin to help control swelling.
- Elevation – as much as possible, elevate your ankle higher than the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
Avoid any of the HARM factors (heat, alcohol, running, massage) in the first 48 hours to prevent increased swelling and help your recovery.
See your therapist especially if there is pain and swelling after 24 hours.
Getting back into action
It’s important to get appropriate rehabilitation to get you better sooner and prevent further injury. Therapy can help reduce the time that your injury is painful and movement is restricted, so you can safely return to sport faster.
How allied health services can help
Physical therapy will enable you to return safely to your sporting activity more quickly than just ‘rest and see what happens’. Before you can safely return to your sport, it’s essential to regain strength, mobility, balance and co-ordination. Your therapist will assess these areas and show you how to improve them.
Therapists are highly qualified and trained in the assessment and treatment of sports injuries. With comprehensive knowledge of biomechanics, tissue injury and healing, many therapists are appointed to sports teams to monitor the rehabilitation of injured players and assist with preventing injuries.