Injury And First Aid: What You Need To Know

Author: Shannon Miller

Whether you’re an elite athlete or just getting started, it’s important to know how to prevent and manage injuries. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers important tips on injuries and first aid.

Overuse Injuries

Exercise puts repetitive stress on many parts of the body such as muscles, tendons, bursae, cartilage, bones, and nerves. Repetitive stress can lead to microtraumas-minor injuries that would typically heal with enough rest. When you exercise too frequently, your body never has a chance to repair microtraumas. As microtraumas build up over time, you become prone to overuse injuries, such as:

  • Damage to elbow cartilage in athletes who throw.
  • Heel bursitis and stress fractures in runners.
  • Nerve entrapment in rowers.
  • Kneecap (patellar) tendinitis in volleyball players.

Traumatic Injuries

To build strength and endurance from exercise, you must slowly and gradually push your body beyond its limits. When you push too far too fast, the body is prone to traumatic injuries such as sprains and fractures. Many seasonal sports injuries happen when athletes rush their reconditioning and do too much too soon with bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles they ignored in the off-season.

Risk Factors

In general, injuries during exercise are more likely if:

  • The duration, intensity or frequency of an exercise is excessive or rapidly increasing.
  • The terrain or weather conditions are extreme or irregular.
  • Incorrect equipment (including athletic shoes) is used.
  • You have been injured in the past.
  • You smoke, drink, or have led a sedentary lifestyle.
  • You have low aerobic or muscle endurance, low or imbalanced strength, or abnormal or imbalanced flexibility.
  • You have high arches in your feet, bowed legs, or legs of different lengths.

First Aid

Accidents can happen despite safe exercise precautions. If you pull a muscle (or worse) during exercise, apply a protective device such as a sling, splint, or brace. Then use the first aid standard for musculoskeletal injures: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE):

  • Knee injuryRest the injury.
  • Ice it to lessen swelling, bleeding, and inflammation.
  • Apply a compression bandage to limit swelling.
  • Elevate the injury above heart level to reduce swelling.
  • You may use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen for pain. See your doctor if you have severe pain, cannot move the injured body part, or if symptoms persist.

Courtesy of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons patient information website

Additional information about common orthopedic injuries and treatments can be found at Heekin Orthopedic Specialists

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