Sports injuries are the number ONE reason for emergency room visits among youth. The majority of these injuries are mild, but they can cause great inconveniences to the injured person. With proper precautions, many of these injuries can actually be prevented.
- Bruises – Injuries in which the capillaries are damaged, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissues.
- Sprains – The pulling or tearing of the ligaments that join the ends of bones together. Sprains commonly affect the ankles, knees, and wrists.
- Strains – The pulling or tearing of muscles or tendons (the tissues that attach the muscles to the bones).
- Bone fractures – The cracking or breaking of bones.
- Dislocation of joints – The bones in a joint become displaced or misaligned. It is often caused by a sudden impact to the joint.
- Tearing of the Achilles tendon – The Achilles tendon is the large group of tissues that connects the calf muscles to the heel.
- Overuse injuries – Injuries such as “runner’s knee” and “tennis elbow,” that are due to overuse of a body part when participating in a certain activity.
- Acute injuries usually occur suddenly while playing sports or exercising. They may result in sudden and severe pain, the inability to bear weight on a limb, or move the affected body part.
- Chronic injuries usually result from overuse of one body part over a period of time. Symptoms of chronic injuries include pain during a physical activity and soreness and a dull ache when at rest.
- Be sure to wear all the required safety gear every time you play or practice.
- Know how to correctly use your equipment.
- Understand and follow the rules of the sport.
- Always warm up and stretch before playing.
- Do not bounce when stretching.
- Land with your knees bent when jumping.
- Gradually build up to the length and intensity of exercise that you are aiming for.
- Know when to stop. Do not over-exert yourself.
- Cool down with mild activities after any sports or workouts.
- Change your activities so that you use different muscle groups.
- Avoid playing when very tired or in pain.
- When exercising on the streets, such as walking, running, riding bikes, and rollerblading, make sure you obey the rules of the road and have fluorescent patches on your clothing if it’s dark outside. Use iPods with caution as these devices can take your attention away from the surrounding environment and block other sounds that might alert you to danger.
As you sweat in playing sports, you should drink equal amounts of fluid to maintain your body’s hydration level. Usually 1 to 1.5 liters of fluid (about 4-6 cups) is needed for each hour of intense sport activity. You should drink fluids before, during, and after playing sports. It is also better to drink frequently, in small amounts, to avoid stomach cramps from drinking large amounts of fluids at once. Avoid beverages containing carbonation and caffeine, because these substances dehydrate the body.
Common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dark-colored urine
For severe injuries, seek medical attention immediately. Timely and appropriate treatment reduces the risk of complications and speeds up the recovery. You should contact your doctor when:
- The injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness
- The joint feels abnormal or unstable.
- The injured part is unable to tolerate any weight.
- An old injury hurts or swells.
For a mild strain, sprain, or swelling, you can try to treat the injury at home using the R.I.C.E. method. But if your injury does not improve or worsens after 3 days, you should contact your health care professional.
- Rest – Rest the injured area for at least 24 to 48 hours. While you are healing, try not to stress the injured area.
- Ice – Apply an ice pack to the injured area for 20 minutes several times a day. Take the ice off after 20 minutes to avoid cold injury.
- Compression – Apply mild and even pressure on the injured area to help reduce swelling. One common method is to wrap the injury with bandages. Ask your doctor what is best for your injury.
- Elevation – Elevate the injured area on pillows when you’re sitting or lying down to help reduce swelling.
- Medline Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sportssafety.html
- National Institutes of Health http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_Injuries/default.asp