Athlete Health
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Minor Sports Injuries

Many sports injuries can be prevented
       To help avoid injuries, participants should maintain fitness, train adequately, play to standard, use the correct equipment and clothing, and cease activity as soon as a suspected injury occurs.

       Sports generally fall into two types of sports - 

Contact sports, like rugby and judo,
Non-contact sports like tennis, skating, swimming and cricket.

       Some non-contact sports, such as basketball, waterpolo, and baseball have penalties for person-to-person contact when it does occur. There are types of injury that are more common in contact sports, than in non-contact sports.

       A qualified trainer can recognize most major sports injuries by their attendant signs and symptoms, and immediately provide required first aid treatment on site. Head injuries, concussion, major lacerations, soft tissue injuries, and fractures, are easily recognizable injuries and someone trained in basic first aid can act as a first responder who can stabilize the athlete before transporting to a doctor's office or hospital for emergency treatment.

       Some sports injuries are common and require specific first aid treatment, not necessarily immediate transport to a hospital; however, these injuries should not be ignored and warrant a follow up visit to the family physician. The following are examples of some of these common injuries:

  • Chest cramps -  Usual cause is a spasm of the intercostal muscles between the ribs, or the diaphragm high in the abdomen. Following exertion, chest cramping is identified by sharp, spasmodic pain in the chest, difficulty in standing upright, and gasping respiration. The spasm normally disappears with rest and deep breathing.
  • Groin and testicle injuries - A blow to the groin, or by over-stretching the associated muscles will. characteristically produce extreme pain to the groin region. Sometimes nausea or vomiting will also occur. Typically the athlete will be unable to stand upright, and will be bent over in characteristic defensive mode to protect the injured area from additional damage. Place the individual on his back with knees slightly bent, and have an ice pack applied with caution to the injury site. Seek medical aid.
  • Muscle cramps - Over-stretched muscles or abnormal muscle contraction are the typical causes. Cramps are also associated with loss of fluid due to excessive sweating.
Cramps are characterized by pain, tenderness, loss of power and stiffening or spasms of the muscles. Muscles respond to rest, application of an ice pack, then subsequent gentle stretching. Do NOT massage the affected muscles!
  • Loss of Wind - is usually caused by a blow to the abdomen which temporarily Paralyzes' the diaphragm. Characterized by breathing difficulty, gasping attempts to breathe, lack of chest movement, bending at the waist and ‘guarding' the abdomen. The casualty should be placed in a reclining position and reassured until they regain the ability to breathe.
  • Tennis elbow - This injury is due to a strain of the tendons and muscles associated with the elbow. Severe cases also involve the ligaments. It is usually a chronic condition, and presents when the elbow is over-used or over-stretched.

Tennis elbow is characterized by pain usually centered over the bone on the outer side of the joint that becomes more severe on movement. The casualty may need medical attention for pain relief, so application of an ice pack and support in a sling, as well as a visit to hospital, is advised.

  • Shin splints - This injury is due to a strain of the long flexor muscle of the toes, characterized by pain along the shinbone. This is an injury common to track athletes and football players.
      Common First Aid treatment to bruised knees, elbows, etc. the application of an ice pack, elevation of the limb, and rest. Continued pain is a sign of a more serious injury requiring medical treatment.

      Repetitive injuries should be examined and treated by a medical professional.

      Some sports injuries sustained by many athletes are chronic, and recur on a regular basis. After a doctor has assessed the athlete, and determined that no other form of treatment is necessary, may prescribe strapping/taping be applied by a qualified person to support the injured part.

Recommended Reading:

Sprains and strains  Sprains and strains — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, treatment, prevention of ligament and muscle damage.

Bruise: First aid How to administer first aid for a bruise.

Knee pain  — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes, treatment of this common joint condition.

Water on the knee  — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes, treatment of knee fluid buildup.

Hyper extended knee: Cause of serious injury? A hyper extended knee may tear or detach some of the ligaments in the knee.


Health and Injury Issues


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Fitness Training Plans
Fitness Exercises
Fitness Components For All Ages
Exercise Programs
Firehouse Fitness
Benefits of General Physical Preparedness
Fitness for Sports & Life Activities
Fitness Program Components
PDF  Sports Medicine Links

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