There’s no denying the health benefits of regular exercise. But with any kind of physical activity comes the risk of injury. What are the most common sports injuries and how are they treated?
Sports injuries are often caused by high impact activities, overuse and falls. Common sports injuries include:
- Sprained ankles result in pain and inflammation.
- Bruises are caused by a fall or impact resulting in bleeding under the skin.
- Cuts and abrasions may be caused by falls and scrapes. The hands, knees and elbows are most often affected.
- Concussion is a knock to the head that may or may not be associated with loss of consciousness. Common symptoms are vomiting, dizziness, pain and short-term memory loss.
- Hamstring strain causes pain, inflammation and restricted movement.
- Dehydration is common when you don’t drink enough water while you’re exercising. In warmer weather, it can lead to heat stroke.
- Dental damage can result from a knock to the jaw or a fall.
- Stress fractures are most common in the lower limbs and are caused by repetitive high impact activity.
- Knee injuries are very common, causing pain and inflammation. The connective tissue may also be affected.
- Nose bleeds and fractures are caused by a blow to the face.
How to treat sports injuries
If you are in a lot of pain, are bleeding excessively or have received a blow to the head, please seek urgent medical attention. For minor injuries, ensure you have an up-to-date first aid kit within easy reach. See your pharmacy for more specific healing aids.
- For strains and sprains, ankle, knee, wrist, elbow and back support products are available. Sports tape and bandages may also help.
- For bruises, try arnica cream. It will speed up the healing process.
- For cuts and abrasions, ensure that your first aid kit contains adhesive plasters in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- Always have cold packs in your freezer.
- You may need anti-inflammatory medication for the first few days. Pain-relieving creams are also available. Ask your pharmacist for advice. If pain persists, see your doctor.
- Keep an electrolyte supplement close by when you’re exercising, particularly in warmer weather.
What you should know
It’s a good idea to have a first aid certificate – you can help yourself and others. At the very least, you should know how to apply the RICE rule as soon as an injury occurs:
- Rest from all activity for at least 24-48 hours. You will also need to treat the injury appropriately.
- Ice the inflamed or bruised area for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Ensure that you wrap the cold pack or bag of frozen peas in a cloth. Never apply heat to an acute injury.
- Compression: Wrap the inflamed area firmly with an elastic bandage as this will help support the joint and reduce inflammation. Don’t wrap it too tightly!
- Elevation: Try to keep the area elevated above heart level.
If you’re in a lot of pain, see your doctor. You may have an undiagnosed fractured tendon or ligament damage. Do not take pain-relieving medication for prolonged periods.
Espie Watt is the owner of The Bush Chemist, an Australian owned and family operated online pharmacy.