As active individuals most of us, at some stage in our lives, will suffer with some form of injury. This could range from a few cuts and bruises, to spraining an ankle, pulling a hamstring or something more serious.
Good basic first aid can make all the difference by reducing downtime and preventing the chance of secondary issues.
Before we get started I want to make it clear that I will only be covering mild cuts, scrapes, sprains and strains, for anything more serious please seek medical attention.
Now we have that small disclaimer out of the way, lets get started with the IFC guide to basic first aid injury management.
If you start experiencing unfamiliar pain and/or discomfort when exercising, stop, especially if its getting progressively worse. Pushing through your pain and continuing to exercise can increase injury severity and prolong your recovery time.
How does the affected area look? Is there a visible wound, bruising, redness or swelling?
Does the area feel warmer than the rest of your body?
Yes or No?
If you can answer yes to any of the above, then what?
Open cuts, grazes and scrapes:
- clean the area with water and antiseptic
- cover and compress if you are bleeding or developing bruising
- if there is a structural deformity, you are bleeding profusely or the cut/scrape is deep, seek medical help immediately
- get shallow grazes checked out if you are concerned there may be grit or dirt embedded in them as these can cause nasty infections further down the line
- if the wound doesn’t start scabbing and healing in the first week it would also be advisable to let a professional take a look
Bruises, strains and sprains : RICE, I’m sure most of you have heard the age old acronym, but what does it actually mean?
Rest, stop and take a break from any activity that is contributing to or aggravating your pain.
This is essential to allow healing, failure to do so can result in chronic pain, inflammation and/or abnormal tissue repair due to continual strain being placed on the injured area.
Ice as soon as possible to minimize bruising and swelling.
Methods vary from applying the ice for 20 minutes every hour to continual cycles of ice, no ice, every 15-20 minutes for 48 hours. To prevent any risk of ice burns it’s advisable to wrap the ice in a towel.
Compression sustained by wrapping the injured area in an elasticated bandage (for example a tubigrip) will help to reduce swelling.
While oedema is an inevitable part of the healing process, too much can reduce your range of motion, increase pain and even slow healing by restricting blood supply to the region.
Be careful not to wrap your injury too tightly as you may restrict blood flow.
Elevate the injured area above the level of your heart anytime you are sitting or lying down to use gravity to help further reduce swelling.
If the injured area remains very swollen and painful after following this routine for around 3-5 days it is advisable to seek a medical review to make sure there hasn’t been any serious structural damage.
If things settle down it is still advisable to get your injury checked out by a qualified sports or physiotherapist to ensure that you can return to your activity of choice without risking re-injury.
For more information or advice on this, or any other physiotherapy or fitness related matters, feel free to give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or pop by our HongKong street clinic for a cuppa and chat.
Annie trained in the UK and has worked in both London and Singapore. She is a rugby enthusiast and currently physio for the Singapore men’s 15s, the Bedok Kings RFC and works closely with the Singapore Rugby Union at international events such as the HSBC 7s. She, and the therapy team are also affiliated with the British Dragon Boat Team and the crew from Juggernaut Fight Club. In her spare time she loves running, paddle boarding, boxing as well as weight training and HIIT sessions with the boys in the IFC gym.