A player limping off the field with an injury is a common scene at football games. Typically, it is painful, often swollen, and sometimes reddened. If you suspect an injury, the most important thing you can do is stop playing. This means taking time-out; a break from the game; and assess your potential injury.
In most cases the injury will not require too much medical intervention; however, the risk run by continuing to play on a sprained or torn muscle is much greater than having it checked professionally. Playing through an injured body can result in ligament injuries, bone fractures or breakages, and further muscle injury.
Types of Injuries
The injuries listed are certainly not exclusive to football, or any contact sport. Although some types are more common in contact sports, the risk is present in any athletic activity.
There are two types of injury an athlete can sustain:
- Acute traumatic injury – This is often the result of a direct hit or collision.
- Overuse/chronic injury – It’s the product of the combined negative effects of a mildly traumatic action that’s repeated. An example is shin splints resulting from multiple days of training/practising.
It’s not unusual for an overuse injury to develop into an acute traumatic one. With those repetitive actions (overuse), a player would be more susceptible to a serious injury that occurs during one particular instance of the same kind of action, such as a sprain or torn ligament (acute traumatic).
Steps for Non-medical InjuryTreatment
Steps to be taken for non-medical treatment are listed:
Wait It Out
When a player is possibly injured, the first thing to do is assess if the affected body part is just ‘hurt’ (a fairly mild injury), or moderately to severely injured. And there is a difference.
An injury that requires immediate care is indicated by (among other things) pain, but pain does not always indicate the same kind of injury. There’s always some pain present immediately after a potential injury takes place; so to better understand its severity, it’s best to wait for a few moments after, to accurately gauge its seriousness.
Examine the Area
- – Swelling
- – Discolouration
- – Moderate to complete loss of movement
- – Numbness or a tingling sensation similar to ‘pins and needles’
- – Affected area is warm to the touch
- – Light touching causes moderate to severe pain.
If there are none of these signs, attempt to move the affected part of the body, and do so slowly and carefully. The attempt at movement is to determine how badly it’s injured. The immediate pain associated with a rolled ankle or jammed finger can be comparable to a more severe injury, but after a few minutes and a little bit of moving, the pain is usually drastically reduced.
RICE the Injury
The RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation of the limb), is mainly used to treat acute injuries; though if a chronic injury is severe enough to require regular treatment, it can also be used. Most injuries are minor and can be walked off, but you should employ R.I.C.E. for a short period, to treat same. For twisted ankles, and minor muscle strains, the method can work wonders. However, you may want to consider reducing play time, if the pain does not go away within thirty minutes.
Hot Tip: Using Ice & Heat
Ice packs are often used to treat acute injuries, mostly because they’re very useful in reducing swelling, which is a regular symptom.
It’s common for athletes to use a combination of ice and heat on the same injury. Ice is used at the beginning, while heat can be used later to help with any pain or tightness encountered in the healing process.
The nature of some acute injuries will prevent some of the RICE steps from being an option. As swelling and pain are reduced, the injured area should be gently massaged and/or stretched to help regain a full range of motion. Returning to a regular workout/training session should only happen when all pain and swelling have disappeared, and a near-full range of motion has returned.
When to Seek External Assistance
Naturally, any easily recognisable signs of a serious injury, copious bleeding, body parts bent the wrong way, should not be ignored. Don’t attempt to fix the problem yourself; seek immediate medical attention. While most minor injuries can be treated with RICE, occasionally an injury will require a trip to the hospital, or a visit to the doctor’s or podiatrist’s office. Along with noticeably broken bones, excessive bleeding, and/or a complete loss of feeling in the injured body part, any of the following warrant an immediate examination by a medical professional:
- – A drastic increase in pain or swelling
- – Pain or swelling moves to another area of the body
- – Red marks appear near the injured area
- – The injured area becomes numb or tingly
- – A fever
- – The injured area shows no signs of improvement after five to seven days.
Injuries are Inevitable
Injuries will happen… but most are relatively minor and easily treatable. The only way to completely avoid injuries, is to not play football at all. Besides, injuries make for good stories, and being able to recover from an injury is part of what puts football players in a class above the rest! Look out for Part 2 of football injuries next week.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!