Avoiding Sports Injuries Even If You’re Not An Athlete

-  Submitted by Kimberly Phomsopha, PTA

Sports injuries do not always occur when playing sports.  Sometimes they can happen even while performing simple activities.  Some injuries are from accidents, but most are the result of not warming up properly, being out of shape, or using incorrect gear.

The most common sports injuries are: sprains, strains, knee injuries, swollen muscles, Achilles tendon injuries, shin splints, fractures, and dislocations.

One of the most common causes of injuries is failure to warm-up or stretch before becoming active.

Think of your warm-up as “training preparation”.  The idea is to get your joints moving one at a time, then all together, in order to loosen and stretch your muscles.  Some classic exercises such as walking lunges, toe touches, and high knees walking are a few simple moves that can be done as a quick warm-up. 

Performing a few short intervals of your planned exercise at a lower intensity can help prepare your body for more intensive movement.

In physical therapy, we suggest dynamic stretching which are active range of motion movements that are similar to what you'll do in your workout. Some experts even suggest performing a few short intervals of the planned exercise at a lower intensity (i.e., brisk walking before running).

Starting out slow when doing any type of activity is key.  Don’t try to be a “weekend warrior” by doing a week’s worth of activity in one day.  Know your body’s limits and build up your exercise level gradually.  The trick is to not overdo it which will could put your out of commission quickly.

If you do get injured, you’ve heard of RICE, now try PRICE…

PRICE should be applied as early as possible after injury and continued for at least the first 24-72 hours. These basic principles of applying cold therapy and compression to sports injuries prevents further injury and starts the healing process of the damaged tissue. If applied early enough and correctly it can significantly reduce recovery time.

P – PROTECT the injured body part (crutches, sling, splint).  The idea is protecting the injured area by limiting further movement and use of the joint/muscle/ligament/tendon.

R – REST refers to both the period of time that you will be out of commission and also to the immediate period after the injury. This rest period allows the injured area to heal.  Without proper rest, one is more at risk for repetitive injuries.  If not allowing for proper healing time, it can lead to severe and chronic problems.

I – ICE the injured body part for 10-20 minutes every few hours for the first 24-48 hours after injury in order to substantially decrease the extent of damage. Icing reduces the amount of bleeding by closing down the blood vessels (called vasoconstriction), reduces pain (pain gate theory), reduces muscle spasms, and reduces the risk of cell death (also called necrosis) by decreasing the rate of metabolism.

C – COMPRESSION should be applied for the first 24-72 hours after injury.  Compressing the injured body part using a compression bandage increases the pressure within the tissue which narrows the blood vessels (vasoconstriction) and prevents additional bleeding while still allowing for slight swelling. 

E – ELEVATE the injured body part for at least the first 48 hours which allows gravity to drain fluid away from the injury which helps to decrease swelling, which in turn, decreases the pain.

If you have severe pain, swelling, or numbness or if you can’t put weight on the area, or if the symptoms get worse, you should see a doctor.


-  Submitted by K
imberly Phomsopha, PTA

About Kimberly Phomsopha, PTA

Kim is a Physical Therapist Assistant at Loudoun Physical Therapy.  She received her Associate of Science degree with an emphasis in Physical Therapy from Northern Virginia Community College in Springfield VA in 2014. She also has her certificate in Early Childhood Education. Kim joined Loudoun Physical Therapy in September of 2015. Outside of work, Kim enjoys spending time with her family as well as motocross, soccer, basketball, mountain biking, canoeing or basically anything outdoors.

 

To learn more about avoiding sports injuries, please click here.

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