Now the days are getting longer you have probably noticed that our community parks are being more frequented by those well-wintered, tan-less body parts. It can only mean one thing – everyone’s favourite midweek social sports are back!
I’m talking Touch Rugby and Oztag seasons. As we start to break hibernation I thought it was worth noting the most common injuries weekend warriors like myself are taking on in the name of fun. Be it with colleagues or friends, we all know someone who will likely roll an ankle as we start to throw the ball around once again.
Sprains and strains of ankles and knees are the most common injuries experienced during the season. It might be due to sudden increase in loading, inability to control forces as we accelerate, change directions or decelerate, or just being unlucky enough to step on the uneven part of the field or tripping over a fellow competitor.
The initial management of these injuries doesn’t change all too much from one soft tissue structure to another. Lets look at an ankle injury as an example and what you can do about it.
A lateral ankle sprain, or more commonly known as a “rolled ankle” is arguably the most common injury on the footy field. This is when you roll over the outside of your ankle spraining the ligaments of the lateral aspect of the ankle joint.
For an acute sprain I recommend R I C E as the most affective and well researched management technique. RICE is short for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Resting the ankle limits the amount of damage you can do to the already injured structures. Pain is usually a great deterrent from continuing to load already injured structures so in an acute sprain a few days rest from playing will help you reduce pain and get back to the field faster.
Ice works by cooling the surrounding tissue and nerve endings. As the nerve endings cool down they fire danger signals to the brain less frequently – thus reducing pain. Ice also helps to vasoconstrict surrounding injured blood vessels reducing the amount of swelling and therefore bruising. No more than 20 minutes on and at least 20 minutes off then repeat.
Compression – either by tubigrip or compression bandage will also help to limit the swelling to the area by aiding venous return. This helps remove wastes from the area as the body starts to repair the injured fibres. I always advise firm but not tight as you want it to be comfortable not painful.
Elevation of the injured limb above the heart will also help to reduce swelling.
There is a lot of mixed advice about whether anti-inflammatory medication should be taken or not. My advice is to give it 48 hours before taking. This will maximise the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Lastly do not go and get a massage for the injury in the first 2 days as this will cause further injury to the site.
These principles can be adapted to any soft tissue structure you may tweak in the season.
For best management and to take out the guess work, book in to have your injury assessed by a Physio at Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD. We have three locations in Sydney at Barangraoo – King Street Wharf, Martin Place and Darling Park.