First Aid Tips for Sports Injuries - Intercare Health Hub

First aid tips for sports injuries | 5 min read

The rugby, hockey and soccer season is upon us! Brace yourself against these common injuries. Accidents, poor training practices, or improper gear can cause them. Some people get hurt because they are not in shape. Not warming up or stretching enough can also lead to injuries.

Sports injuries are commonly caused by overuse, direct impact, or the application of force that is greater than the body part can structurally withstand. There are two kinds of sports injuries: acute and chronic. An injury that occurs suddenly, such as a sprained ankle caused by an awkward landing, is known as an acute injury.

Chronic injuries are caused by repeated overuse of muscle groups or joints. Poor technique and structural abnormalities can also contribute to the development of chronic injuries. Medical investigation of any sports injury is important, because you may be hurt more severely than you think. For example, what seems like an ankle sprain may actually be a bone fracture.

Types of sports injuries

Some of the more common sports injuries include:

  • Ankle sprain – symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness.
  • Bruises – a blow can cause small bleeds into the skin.
  • Concussion – mild reversible brain injury from a blow to the head, which may be associated with loss of consciousness. Symptoms include headache, dizziness and short term memory loss.
  • Cuts and abrasions – are usually caused by falls. The knees and hands are particularly prone.
  • Dehydration – losing too much fluid can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Dental damage – a blow to the jaw can crack, break or dislodge teeth.
  • Groin strain – symptoms include pain and swelling.
  • Hamstring strain – symptoms include pain, swelling and bruising.
  • Knee joint injuries – symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness. The ligaments, tendons or cartilage can be affected.
  • Nose injuries – either blood nose or broken nose, are caused by a direct blow.
  • Stress fractures – particularly in the lower limbs. The impact of repeated jumping or running on hard surfaces can eventually stress and crack bone.

If you have a sports injury the first thing to do is to prevent further injury or damage. This means you should stop activity and look for the cause of the injury. Once you determine what is wrong, you can start immediate treatment.

First aid for sprains, strains and joint injuries

The first treatment for most acute soft tissue injuries (bruises, strains, springs, tears) is to prevent, stop and reduce swelling. When soft tissue is damaged it swells or possibly bleeds internally. This swelling causes pain and loss of motion, which limits use of the muscles.Continue reading below…

You can limit swelling and start healing faster after common sports injuries by using the PRICE principle:

  • P — protect from further injury
    If you sprained a finger or hand, remove rings. For more severe injuries, protect the injured area with a splint, pad, or crutch
  • R — restrict activity
    Restricting activity will prevent worsening of the injury
  • I — apply ice
    Apply ice immediately after a common sports injury. Ice is the miracle drug for sports injuries. Use ice for 20 minutes every one to two hours for the first 48 hours after the injury. Don’t use heat during this time — it encourages swelling and inflammation
  • C — apply compression
    Compression with an elastic bandage will help reduce swelling
  • E — elevate the injured area
    Elevating the injured area above the heart will also reduce swelling

Over-the-counter pain relievers usually relieve the pain of common sports injuries to a tolerable level. If they don’t, it’s probably time to see a doctor.

Once the injury begins to heal, use M.S.A.:

  • M: Work toward a full range of motion as soon as possible. This will help maintain flexibility during healing and prevent any scar tissue from limiting future performance.
  • S: Gradually strengthen the injured area once the swelling is controlled and a range of motion is back.
  • A: Alternative Activities. Do regular exercises that do not strain the injured part. Start this a few days after the injury, even though the injured part is still healing.

First aid for nose bleeds

  • Stop the activity
  • Sit with the head leaning forward
  • Pinch the nostrils together and breathe through your mouth
  • Hold the nose for at least 10 minutes
  • If bleeding continues past 30 minutes, seek medical advice

First aid for dislodged teeth

It may be possible to save the tooth with prompt dental treatment. Rinse the tooth in water or milk and see your dentist immediately.

Emergency situations

Call an ambulance for:

  • prolonged loss of consciousness
  • neck or spine injuries
  • broken bones
  • injuries to the head or face
  • eye injuries
  • abdominal injuries

Prevention of sports injuries

You can reduce your risk of sports injuries if you:

  • Warm-up thoroughly by gently going through the motions of your sport and performing slow, sustained stretches.
  • Wear shoes and socks that fit well. The widest area of your foot should match the widest area of the shoe. You should be able to wiggle your toes with the shoe on when you sit and when you stand. Wear shoes that provide shock absorption and stability.
  • Tape or strap vulnerable joints, if necessary.
  • Wear the right protective gear and clothing for the sport (e.g., a helmet; shoulder, knee, and wrist pads; a mouth guard, etc.).
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after the game.
  • Try to avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm.
  • Maintain a good level of overall fitness, particularly in the “off season”.
  • Cross-train with other sports to ensure overall fitness and muscle strength.
  • Ensure training includes appropriate speed and impact work so muscles are capable of the demands of a game situation.
  • Don’t exert yourself beyond your level of fitness. Gradually increase intensity and duration of training.
  • Use good form and technique.
  • Cool down after sport with gentle, sustained stretches.
  • Allow adequate recovery time between sessions.
  • Have regular medical checkups.


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