The basic elements of treatment for minor injuries are rest, ice, compression and elevation. If pain is severe, or if a minor sports injury persists, consult a doctor.
It is advisable to rest for at least a day or two after any training sports injury. Many people think that they can ‘work off’ an injury by continuing training, but this is likely to lead to further damage. Exercise should be resumed gradually, with plenty of gentle stretches; this will help any injured tissue to form a flexible scar and reduce the likelihood of a recurrence.
Applying an ice pack – a bag of ice cubes or frozen peas is suitable – slows the process of inflammation. For best results, this must be done within a few hours of sustaining the sports injury. The pack should be applied for up to 15 minutes every two to three hours throughout the first day.
Swelling and bleeding of the tissues surrounding a sports injury leads to an accumulation of fluid in that area. Compressing the area with an elasticated bandage limits the spread of fluid and helps speed recovery. The bandage should not be so tight that it restricts blood flow.
The injured area should be well supported and elevated to allow the fluids produced by swelling and bleeding to drain away – for example, by putting a sprained wrist in a sling. This is very important for leg injuries, as fluids can pool at the feet, causing further swelling.