The road to recovery after a sports injury


Sports injuries can sometimes be final for an athlete, however, they can be treated and an athlete can even make a full recovery. If injured out on the field, an athlete should take immediate steps to ensure full recovery from the injury. After any type of leg injury occurs on the sports ground, the first thing to do is RICE. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This will help to start healing the injury immediately. Resting the leg will help to prevent any further damage to the injury and applying ice every 20 minutes in each hour for at least a day will aid in minimizing pain and bringing down swelling. Compression and elevation of the leg are both also to help reduce the swelling of the injury.

For the first couple of days after any serious sports injury, the athlete needs rest. Thereafter, the injured person should start with physiotherapy. Physiotherapy has many benefits such as reducing pain faster, aiding in strengthening of the injured area through exercises, helping to reduce the formation of scar tissue and to help improve athletic performance when the athlete returns to the sports field. Physiotherapy will also assist an injured athlete to return to playing sport earlier than they would have without physiotherapy. Should an injured player not go through this rehabilitation process, they may suffer long-term consequences, such as having a recurring injury, or the injury not healing and the athlete suffering continuous pain.

During the healing process, the injured athlete should look at common causes of sports injuries and try to avoid these. A few causes of sports injuries are structural defects in the body, weak ligaments, tendons and muscles, and an athlete training in unsafe environments. Structural defects of the body cannot be prevented, but can be strengthened through physiotherapy. The most common cause of injury is poor exercising and training methods. These poor training methods can easily be improved to reduce injury. After a workout, muscles need at least two days to fully recover. Pain should never be ignored as it can be a warning of a potential injury.


Illustration: Sally Hartzenberg

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