While the benefits of regularly doing sports far outweigh the risks, injuries can happen. Read our article below for more information on the causes and treatments for sports injuries, as well as some top tips to prevent them.
Causes of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries can be caused by a range of things. It may be an accident like a fall or heavy blow, not warming up properly before exercise, using inappropriate equipment, poor technique, or pushing yourself too hard.
Almost any part of the body can become injured, including the muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. The ankles and knees are particularly prone to injury.
Treatments for Sports Injuries
If youíve injured yourself, you might not now about it straight away. While you may have immediate pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, or stiffness, these symptoms could show up several hours after exercising or playing sports.
If you feel pain when exercising, no matter if itís happened suddenly or youíve had it for a while, you should stop. Continuing to exercise when you have an injury may cause more damage and slow down your recovery time.
If you have a minor injury, you may be able to look after yourself at home without needing to see a doctor. If you donít get better over time, you might want to visit your GP, local minor injuries unit, or NHS walk-in centre. If you have a severe injury like a broken bone, dislocation, or severe head injury, you should go to your nearest A&E as soon as possible.
To look after a minor injury by yourself, you should:
- Rest the affected body part for the first 48 to 72 hours
- Regularly apply an ice pack for the first 48 to 72 hours to reduce swelling
- Take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage pain
If your symptoms do not go away, or are more severe, then you may require specialist treatment and support like physiotherapy. A very serious injury will occasionally need a procedure to align misplaced bones, fix broken bones, or repair torn ligaments.
Sports injuries can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to make a full recovery, or even longer for something more serious. While recovering, itís important to not do too much or push yourself too hard Ė aim to increase your activity level gradually over time.
Prevention of Sports Injuries
You can reduce your risk of getting injured while exercising by:
- Warming up and cooling down properly before and after exercise
- Not pushing yourself too far beyond your current fitness level
- Using the right equipment, like running shoes for running or a shing guard for football
- Using the right technique
When starting a new sport or exercise, you can help to prevent injuries by getting advice and training from a qualified fitness trainer or sports coach.