Sports Injuries: Prevention checklist every athlete should follow

Login to Health August 22, 2017 Bone Health 719 Views

While basketball and bicycling topped the list of highest injuries in 2009 (from the Consumer Product Safety Commission) football & skating are close contenders. Ankle sprain and hamstring strain, shin splits and knee injury are the most common sport-related injuries.

Here is an example of how 11 year old Maya was susceptible to one of them.

Athletic and broad-shouldered Maya had ‘always been a tomboy’ cycling with older kids as a child and gradually developed a keen interest in football and hockey. While her parents supported her with the right diet and getting her the best coach to blossom, they were quite unaware of what could possibly go wrong. They had no inkling of sports-related injuries, except the tennis elbow and that too merely as pain concentrated at the spot between the forearm and elbow. Actually, tennis elbow is caused due to repetitive stress or overuse of muscles in the elbow region and changing the backhand technique or not holding the racquet too tightly can allay a tennis elbow to some extent.

As is usually the case, Maya had sprained the lateral ligament of her ankle. Her parents gave her the best possible advice, “Rest it out.” Orthopedic surgeons too recommend that one should not put weight on the sprained ankle or knee – at least not for 48 hours. Medical advice can be summed up in a neat acronym, RICE which can be further explained as:

R – Rest, I – Ice, C- Compression and E – Elevation.

While the ice pack has to be put to the injured area for 20 mins, as many as 8 times in a day, compression on the injured area by way of an elastic wrap, a specially made boot will help reduce the swelling. However, caution is necessary – using the ice pack for more than 20 mins may lead to cold injury. Elevation simply requires raising the injured ankle or knee at a level above the heart, using a pillow.

Other Important Guidelines

Self-medication will create more harm than good. It is best to get a sports-related injury treated by an orthopedist. You may be advised immobilization through a sling to prevent further damage, or a surgery may be suggested to fix torn ligaments and tendons.

Another way of treating sports-related injury is through systematic or step-by-step exercise. Gentle movement, first, stretch is the second step and only after a prolonged period of time should weights be used to strengthen the injured area.

Electrostimulation, thermotherapy or heat packs, ultrasound and massage – there’s a wide range of treatments available and let the experts suggest which will be beneficial for you. At times, a combination of them may be needed.

As for the bubbly Maya, being at home entailed ample time to surf the net and gain information about how to prevent sport-related injuries in the future.

Her checklist now includes:

  • A thorough warm up before starting to play basketball or football unlike in the past when she used to skip the initial 10 minutes and plunge headlong into the game.
  • Avoid hard surfaces. Maya was always particular about wearing the right type of shoes – ones that are shock-absorbent but did not pay particular attention to the court where practice sessions were held. Hard surfaces can particularly trigger tension in the soles of the feet.
  • Listen to your body. Maya has begun to realize that strenuous training can drain her physically. She is now careful and doesn’t play when she’s already tired after a hectic round of tuitions or after an exhausting field trip.

Maya’s football companions have learnt many facts about acute and chronic sports-related injuries from her! Sudden severe pain or not being able to move a joint as normal, extreme weakness all fall in the former category, and after Maya’s brief hiatus from the game all of them are particularly careful!

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