Depending on the severity, sports injuries can vary from simple bruises to life threatening conditions like spinal injuries and head injuries. Also the types of injuries we encounter vary from sport to sport. However soft tissue injuries like ligament injuries and muscle injuries without causing any mortality, keep an athlete away from playing for a significant period of time leading to major losses in their career. Ankle, knee and shoulders are the mainly affected joints and hamstrings, adductors of lower limb, calf muscles, Muscles in the shoulder (rotator-cuff muscles) are the more frequently injured muscles.
Causes for injuries…..
If an athlete, who had been properly trained according to requirements in general and specific preparations, the chances of getting an injury are low. But undue overloading, incorrect training methods and incorrect techniques, not adhering to proper warming up might lead to major injuries even from a slight deviation in a training movement. Not only that, lack of proper rest in between sessions, lack of proper nutrition, lack of quality sleep are also contributing, specially in student athletes.
Despite the sport, general preparation requirements are more or less the same for every athlete. As much as their cardio-respiratory conditioning is focused, a same amount of focusing should be given to musculoskeletal conditioning. A proper plan in muscles strengthening and conditioning will prepare athletes’ body to bear the proper load due in competition period. If an athlete’s body is not prepared and is subjected to a period of work outs, injuries would be the outcome. Therefore, how well the athlete is trained during general and specific preparation periods, will determine how better he/she would perform in the competition period without injuries.
First Aid & Initial Management of injuries (RICE & POLICE)….
Though proper conditioning helps to prevent a large number of injuries, still injuries may occur specially which depend external factors like ground conditions, fellow athletes specially in contact sports, shoes and etc. Therefore, being aware of initial management of injuries would be beneficial for anyone.
The first aid protocol which was followed until recently was the RICE method, which indicates Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Resting the injured muscle or joint, using ice, compression bandage and elevation of injured limb above heart level to reduce fluid collection, inflammation and pain were expected. However POLICE a newer acronym found in recent literature in sports medicine, seems to be more rational and based on newer findings.
Protection(P) of the injured muscle or joint is meant be the prevention of further tissue damage, but not entire immobilization. Stopping the activity and taking the athlete into a resting place and immobilization of affected part at the acute stage might help. But immobilization is not for a long time.
Optimal Loading (OL) means early mobilization of the injured muscle or joint with gradually increasing optimal activity level. It should not aggravate the injury, but when it is done optimally and properly it fastens and promotes the healing process helping athlete to return to field sooner and reduces muscle and joint tightness or muscles wasting which athletes usually encounter after long rest due to an injury. Ice(I), Compression(C) and Elevation(E) are used similarly as in RICE. After following above mentioned first aid protocols its important to seek professional medical advices to find and treat serious injuries.
In conclusion majority of sports injuries are preventable with proper training schedules and even though an injury occurred early actions in optimal loading helps the athlete to recover fast and to get back to field sooner.
Rtr. Akhila Nilaweera,