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First Aid for Sports Injuries

If you are in or witness a sport accident, here are some steps to follow:

Call 911 or your local emergency number for emergencies.

For sports-related injuries, most trainers apply R.I.C.E.: Rest, ice, compression, elevation.

REST -  Means to stop the activity that led to your injury. As simple as that sounds, many of people continue to run with blisters or play ball with a split and bloody lip. The endorphins have a way of making you feel good even when you hurt yourself.  Your body needs time to heal itself and recover from trauma.

ICE -  Means to apply or give ice, cold water, or frozen bag.  Your body's immediate response to bruises, sprains and breaks is to send fluid to the area to immobilize and protect it.  Swelling hurts sometimes more painfully than the initial injury. Ice keeps the swelling down. It also numbs the pain receptors at the site of an injury. If you're bleeding, ice also helps slow the flow.

COMPRESSION - Is applying pressure to the wound. This is more commonly used for bleeding and breaks than for bumps and bruises. Hold a sterile dressing against a wound and press firmly to stop the bleeding or to keep a broken bone immobile until medical help arrives. Be advised that applying a tourniquet is no longer being taught as a method of first aid due to the possible damage you could cause from cutting off the blood supply to injured tissue. Press against the wound but don’t wrap anything tightly around a limb.

ELEVATION - Is lifting up and immobilizing an injured limb to decrease the swelling and blood flow. If you injure yourself anywhere on your leg (toes, ankles, knees, etc.), then sit down and prop your leg higher than the hip.  If you hurt yourself anywhere on your arms, sit down and prop your arm higher than or level to your heart, on the back of a chair for example.

Not every injury requires every element of the R.I.C.E. method. The most common injuries in a gym that benefit from R.I.C.E. are incidents such as dropping a weight on your finger or toe, slipping off a STEP riser and twisting your ankle, getting elbowed in a basketball game, tripping and landing on your elbows, hands and knees, slipping on the wet locker room floor and cutting yourself on the edge of your locker, and working out with a old injury. Make sure you fill out an incident or accident report at your facility even if you refuse medical attention. This protects you and the facility in cases of probable negligence.

The most common injuries when exercising away from the gym usually involve a piece of equipment, such as a bike, racquet, improper footwear, or improper use of equipment, resulting in sprains, bruises, blisters, abrasions or broken bones. Make sure you take the necessary precautions using the equipment either at home or at the gym.

The best protection for yourself and your family is to take a first aid course offered by your local YMCA, Red Cross chapter, local hospital or community center. Learn how to assess an injury and how to take appropriate action. R.I.C.E. is just one part of your training toward fitness.

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