Sports players are never terrified to get hurt; in fact, it goes with the territory. What’s petrifying to them, though, is getting injured and spending a lot of downtime at home. When an athlete gets injured from playing sports, the healing period could take weeks or even months, and that means taking time off from playing on the field.
Players who participate in contact sports enjoy being at the heart of the action all the time. That’s why they hate being thwarted by serious injuries affecting joints, ligaments, and muscles because this means needing more time for treatment, therapy, and rest. But if the inevitable happens and the player gets injured, he or she doesn’t have a choice but to take time to heal.
Reducing healing times for sports injuries require religiously obeying doctor’s orders and maintaining self-care practices. Apart from physical conditioning, players may need to regain their mental well-being, too. To facilitate a swift and smooth healing process from a sports injury, take note of the following tips below:
Use The R.I.C.E Method to Treat Soft Tissue Injuries
At the onset of a sports injury, your body protects itself from further damage by displaying signs of inflammation: swelling, redness, pain, and warmth. As the fluids rush to the affected area, the body tries it’s hardest to remove the tissues damaged by the impact. At this stage and up to 72 hours later, it helps to apply cold therapy to facilitate faster healing.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it right:
- Rest: One of the cornerstones for the treatment of basketball and other injuries, is to rest the affected area. This does not mean completely being immobile, as muscle atrophy or loss of muscle tissue can strike you instead. At the minimum, avoid putting pressure or weight on the injury for at least two days. Use a splint or brace if necessary. You can perform gentle, cardiovascular exercises such as biking and swimming instead.
- Ice: Physicians recommend placing ice over the injured area every 10 to 15 minutes, every two or three hours, and for the first and second days from the date of injury. Cold therapy is effective in reducing swelling and pain. It works by slowing down the pain receptors, making you less sensitive to pain. Low temperatures also act as vasoconstrictors; minimizing blood vessels and instigates a more efficient lymphatic system.
- Compression: When mixed with proper pressure or compression, cold therapy becomes more effective. If you’re using an ice pack, look for an elastic bandage and wrap it around the affected area. The pressure should be snug enough to reduce swelling, but not too much to cause blood flow interruption. When you feel numb or tingly, or notice skin discoloration, loosen the bandage. Also, make sure to remove it every 15 minutes to prevent frostbite or tissue damage.
- Elevation: Raising the injured area above your heart level is also critical to further reduce swelling. Elevating also helps reduce pain as it relieves pressure. All you have to do is prop the injured area with pillows.
- Visit A Doctor
If your injury is classified as a minor strain, the R.I.C.E method may be able to address it in a week or two. If your symptoms persist or get worse, it’s best to visit a sports injury clinic such as Eastern Idaho Spine, Sports and Rehab Center, for proper diagnosis and treatment.
A sports doctor will likely ask you to undergo a series of imaging tests to determine the extent of the injury and identify the parts affected. Knowing where your specific problems lie enables healthcare professionals to devise a more effective treatment plan that could involve both physical and mental rehabilitation.
Perform A Range of Motion Exercises
A few days following the injury, you can perform a mild range of motion movements so your muscles, joints, and ligaments can function properly. Gentle, controlled movements should be done properly so that you don’t exert too much effort that can further cause injuries. It’s important to do this right; as doing too little won’t contribute to faster healing either.
If you haven’t seen a sports doctor for your injuries, it’s best to consult a physiotherapist to monitor your execution and progress. A person who’s still in the healing process has a high chance of getting re-injured. The worst part? It’ll take longer to heal when this happens.
Most common sports injuries typically benefit from gentle exercises such as tai chi, yoga, walking, and swimming. Ask your doctor for advice. Consider getting massages too.
Take Food And Supplements That Can Help With The Healing Process
Food is your body’s fuel. When you’re still in the healing process, it’s best to eat nutrient-rich foods that help strengthen your muscle tissues, ligaments, bones, and joints. Experts would usually suggest to increase your intake of the following:
- Protein-Rich Foods: This includes eggs, meat, and fish are critical in boosting your body’s muscle-building and repair processes.
- Calcium: Good sources of calcium include milk, almonds, and cheese. These are highly beneficial for individuals suffering from bone fractures. To facilitate calcium absorption, your body needs vitamin D from sunlight exposure, which helps boost the immune system.
- Essential Fatty Acids: This could come from salmon, avocado, and certain types of beans. Essential fatty acids can regulate swelling and inflammation that go with sports injuries. There are also fish oil supplements that you can take in place of organic food sources.
- Vitamin C: This facilitates collagen production and minimizes inflammation. Collagen helps joints maintain their flexibility and strength at the same time.
Don’t Forget To Take Care Of Mental Health
Many athletes are at risk of falling into depression after getting injured from a game. As they can no longer do the things that they used to do, they may feel that they’ve lost their purpose and motivation. Apart from physical rehabilitation, doctors may need to consider mental conditioning, as well. If you’re an athlete, it’s important to exercise patience and accept that healing takes time.
If you’re a caregiver or a family member of an injured sports player, observe whether there are signs that could indicate a potential mental health issue. Irritability, severe mood swings, oversleeping or insomnia, and loss of interest are key symptoms of depression. An injured athlete should be able to recognize these feelings and learn to develop coping mechanisms in order to get through them.
The Bottom Line
Recovering from a sports injury can be challenging. With a mix of first aid and professional help, an athlete can recover physically, mentally, and emotionally in no time. It’s important to take baby steps and not rush the healing process. So, consult a doctor, follow the treatment plan, and slowly get back on track with a mild range of movements.