Athlete safety should always be the top priority of coaches, parents, and players, and it is possible through sports first aid and injury prevention.
Sports injuries can happen at any level of competition – from youth recreational leagues to professional teams. While some have access to athletic trainers and full-time medical staff, others do not.
In situations where there is limited access to medical resources, the responsibility for the health and safety of athletes often falls on parents and coaches.
Here, we explore necessary steps for sports first aid and injury prevention tips for athlete safety.
Why is Injury Prevention Important in Sports?
The best way to deal with sports injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Think of injury prevention as another part of the sport’s rulebook. Following the rules of the games, using proper equipment, and knowing sports first aid can go a long way toward preventing injuries.
Sports injuries are divided into two categories: acute and chronic.
Acute injuries occur when a person suffers from a fall, receives a blow, or twists a joint. In contrast, chronic injuries are often a result of the overuse of one or more body areas. The latter tends to develop excruciating symptoms over time.
Common acute injuries include sprains, strains, and dislocation, while chronic examples are shin splints and stress fractures.
There are many reasons why athletes suffer from sports injuries. These include improper playing techniques, training too much, and not wearing the proper footwear and safety equipment.
Australia is known to be a nation of sports lower. However, many people know that engaging in one does not come without risks.
In fact, according to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – around 60,000 hospitalisation cases occur due to sports injuries every year.
The good news is that most sports injuries are treatable, and most likely, the athlete will be able to return to previous physical activity after recovery.
Even better, many sports injuries are entirely preventable with proper precautions.
Sports First Aid
Here are some key points to know about sports first aid and injury treatment.
Head and Neck Injuries
Severe head and neck injuries occur most often in athletes who play contact sports or those with the potential for a falling accident.
A mishandled head or neck fracture could result in permanent paralysis or death. Keep the victim still with head in a straight position while someone calls triple zero (000) for emergency medical help.
If the person is lying on the ground, let them be still and do not attempt to move them unless there is an immediate danger.
Most back injuries occur due to sudden twists or overexertion of back muscles during bending or lifting movements while playing.
In the first 48 hours after the injury, sports first aid treatment aims to decrease pain, swelling, and muscle spasms.
Getting rest, applying ice to the affected area, and taking over the counter medication can help with the symptoms.
Hand and Wrist Injuries
Hand, finger, and wrist injuries can happen in situations that force the muscles in this area to bend backward or receive a direct blow.
Use the RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to relieve pain and swelling. Avoid using the injured hand or wrist for the first 24 hours after the injury.
Use an elastic bandage to decrease swelling, and it also serves as a reminder to avoid unnecessary movement until it is fully healed.
Foot and Ankle Injuries
Feet and ankles are particularly vulnerable to injury in sports that involves jumping or running.
Following an injury, the primary goal is to apply a pressure bandage on the affected area. Using compression help minimise the swelling and promote faster recovery.
Start the pressure bandage out the toes and work the way up.
How to Prevent Sports Injuries
Here are some ways to reduce the risk of sports-related injuries.
- Set aside time to warm up and stretch before any practice or game. Doing so helps release muscles tension and increases flexibility.
- Play safe by strictly following rules and guides of the sport type.
- Taking rest periods can reduce the risk of injury and prevent heat illness.
- Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
- Wearing proper protective equipment help lower the chances of injuries. These include pads, helmets, mouthpiece faceguards, eyewear, and more.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after the game.
- Do not play through pain and immediately stop once symptoms are unbearable.
- Learn first aid and other wound care techniques.
What Should Be in a Sports First Aid Kit?
No sporting event or competition should occur without a sports first aid kit designed to treat the most common injuries and illnesses and the field.
The content and type of first aid kit may vary by sport. General supplies may include bandages, gauzes, medical tape, elastic wrap, antiseptic wipes, first aid tools (scissors, tweezers), neoprene joint brace, etc.
Learn First Aid
Injuries can bring several complications, and it is because not all signs and symptoms of potentially serious conditions are obvious.
There is a vital need for parents, coaches, and players to get educated on common sports injuries, like concussions, head injuries, and heat-related illnesses.
Fortunately, many educational resources are available online and in person, such as first aid training.
In most instances, it is a requirement for coaches and other first-aid staff in any sporting event to have their first aid and CPR certification and AED training.
Knowing how to administer first aid to an athlete with an illness or injuries can be the difference between long term disability and fast healing recovery.
Book a first aid course today.