Maintain & Regain Your Fitness
The good news is most sports injuries are temporary setbacks. With effective treatment, you can overcome injuries and return to your desired level of physical activity and athletic participation. Even better, you can avoid many sports injuries altogether if you take proper precautions.
If an injury is preventing you from performing at your best, our orthopedic and sports medicine experts are ready to help with advice, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Some sports injuries warrant a visit to a health professional—or even the emergency room. You should see a professional when the following acute or chronic conditions exist:
- Swelling on or around a joint
- Inability to move a joint or decreased motion of the joint
- Any bone deformity
- Inability to walk without a limp
- Extensive bruising
- The symptoms do not disappear after activity modification and full resumption of activity
- The symptoms are occurring with daily activities such as walking
- The symptoms persist for longer than 10 days
Among the most serious potential sports injuries are concussions. Learn to recognize and respond to concussion injuries.
Injury Care and Prevention
These guidelines and practices will help you and your team stay in the game:
Ice and heat are among the most common treatments for sports injuries. But it’s important to know which treatment is right for your injury and to understand the guidelines for use.
When and how to use ice:
Ice treatment is most often used for acute injuries such as ankle sprains. It may also be used for chronic conditions such as injuries from overuse.
- Use early and often for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling.
- Use ice following exercise to decrease inflammation for both acute and chronic injuries.
- Use for no longer than 15 minutes every three to four hours for the first 24 to 48 hours following an acute injury.
- Do not use for more than 20 minutes at a time, as prolonged exposure may lead to tissue damage.
When and how to use heat:
Heat treatment is most commonly used for chronic conditions to help relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow to the area. It may also be used for chronic injuries prior to stretching.
- Use prior to exercise as part of a warm-up. However, general whole body warm-up activities, such as jogging, are more effective than heat in increasing blood flow and tissue temperature in the affected area.
- Do not use heat for the first 48 to 72 hours following an acute injury.
- Do not use heat when signs of inflammation such as redness, warmth or swelling are present.
Staying hydrated is key to your health and fitness, especially during warm weather. Heat-related problems usually occur within the first few days of practice and conditioning. That’s why it’s important to increase activity levels gradually and emphasize proper hydration throughout.
During hot and humid conditions, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages coaches and athletes to:
- Reduce intensity of physical activity lasting more than 15 minutes
- Drink plenty of fluids before practice and during regular breaks, while limiting clothing to a single layer of light-colored, lightweight material
The color of your urine is a good indicator of whether you’re consuming the necessary level of fluids. The clearer your urine, the better, as this indicates it’s less concentrated. Athletes should drink 20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during physical activity.
Athletes continually touch other players, surfaces and objects, accumulating germs on their hands. Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness or infections.
Proper hand washing involves getting your hands completely wet, applying a generous amount of soap and scrubbing well for approximately 15 seconds—including between fingers, under nails and on the back of your hands. It’s best to turn off the faucet using your elbow or a paper towel, then dry your hands with a clean paper towel.
Always wash hands and other exposed skin immediately or as soon as possible after contact with blood or potentially blood-tainted fluids or materials. Exercise care and minimize handling when removing soiled gloves or protective gear.
Learn More about Exercise, Fitness & Overcoming Injuries
Consult our comprehensive online Health Library for a wealth of related information, including articles and videos on topics including physical exercise, men’s health, women’s health and Tips for Older Adults: Ways to Avoid Injury During Sports and Exercise.