Four Things You Should Do In The First 24 Hours After Injury
The first 24 hours after injury is the most critical time for an athlete.
How you react and treat a sprain, tear, pull or any other muscle or joint injury in the first day can set the tone for the entire recovery period. It can determine whether you make a speedy return to the field or endure a lengthy stint on the sidelines. If you are looking for some essential advice on these key few hours immediately after an injury, we have outlined four important steps that you should always remember.
The benefits of applying ice are greatest within the first 24 hours after injury. The cold therapy will help relieve pain and prevent swelling by decreasing blood flow to the area.
Indirectly apply an ice pack or a bag of ice to the injured area by wrapping the pack or bag in a towel or cloth or applying the cold therapy through clothes. Never apply the ice directly to the skin as this may lead to irritated or frostbitten skin and will do more harm than good. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and allow your skin to return to normal temperature in between applications.
Utilizing compression in the area around your injury can help minimize swelling and pain by preventing the buildup of fluid. It also helps ease pain by keeping the injured area immobilized and supported, giving the injury a head start on healing. Lastly, compression can provide you with both a mental reminder to take it easy and a can help give you peace of mind while dealing managing an unsure situation.
Compression can come in the form of athletic tape, bandages or orthopaedic braces. Compression should not feel so tight that it causes discomfort, tingling, numbness or situation that inhibits the normal flow of blood in your body. Remember, even a small amount of compression can keep fluid from collecting around the injury and therefore reduce pain and swelling.
Stay Off Of It
This step may seem like a no-brainer, but when you are an athlete, your competitive nature may take over and drive you to ignore an injury. Resist the urge to continue playing through pain, soreness, tightness or swelling. Even if the injury starts to feel better and the pain begins to dull, be cautious and get it checked by a sports medicine professional, physiotherapist or doctor. It’s easy to aggravate an injury or make it worse just by jumping back into the fray, especially an overuse injury or a muscle tear.
For many injury, strengthening the area around the injury is part of the recovery process. However, in the first 24 hours after injury, refrain from doing any sort of vigorous or weight-bearing activities. If a doctor says it is okay (and only then), do some light stretching to keep the joint or muscle from stiffening and to relieve pain.
Get A Professional Opinion
One of the most common downfalls athletes face immediately after an injury is arrogance. Do not assume that you know what kind of injury you have sustained and therefore, how you should treat it. Visit a medical professional as soon as possible, ideally within the first 24 hours after an injury, to get an opinion on the kind of injury you have, the severity and what kind of recovery process is best.
Seeing a medical professional within the first 24 hours can help you both mentally and physically. Knowing your precise diagnosis can relieve stress, helping your body to focus on recovery. A medical professional can also begin to treat the injury immediately and can provide stretching exercises, pain medication and recommendations for rehab equipment, such as orthopaedic braces, that can help you as an athlete get a jump on getting 100 per cent healthy again.