Strains, Sprains, and Other Sports Injuries: 3 Questions
Expert advice from Edward McFarland, MD, on how to cope with these common sports injuries.
What are the most common causes of these injuries and how can you prevent them? continued...
I think that as you get more mature, you realize that it takes less and less
to get your tissues aggravated.
I always tell people when you are starting out, do about one tenth of what
you think you can do and try not to overdo it. We often see people who haven’t
done a sport in months or years and try to go out full-gun or full-bore.
Suddenly they are hurting all over, or get tendinitis, or irritation of their
tendons or ligaments or knees or their joints. The biggest issue is a large
increase in [physical] stress too rapidly.
But still, it is very unpredictable, which is what makes it so
WWhat are the treatments for these different injuries?
With traumatic injuries, if you have bruising or swelling or can’t move
something, you of course need to see a health provider to make sure that you
didn’t break something.
For overuse injuries, there is a litany of things you can do. We usually
recommend relative rest. In other words, you don’t have to completely stop your
sport, but you should back off a little bit. Maybe not exercise five days a
week but go to three, or maybe don’t exercise for two hours, but for 45
You may want to do some cross training, exercising joints other than those
that are irritated.
Also, use ice on places that hurt. Ice, not heat -- the old adage
about ice for 24 hours followed by heat is really not believed anymore. Ice is
better for pain and swelling and for getting range of motion back. You can ice
after any exercise; you can even ice at night in bed. Heat is good for
stretching and before exercise, but ice is always better afterward.
You can also take some acetaminophen in a low dose if you are so inclined,
but it’s a little trickier if you try to use anti-inflammatories [such as
aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen] because there are lots of side effects
associated with them. But if you don’t have trouble with those, then small
doses are probably OK.
If you continue to have trouble, then seeking a consultation from a
physician might be a good idea.