Table of Contents
    3 Jul 2023
    4.3
    Sports
    Table of Contents
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    People are focusing more on their health in the past few years. Over 50% of respondents in a survey said that they have resumed their pre-pandemic exercise routine and habits1. Due to the increasing popularity of exercising, the number of sports and recreation-related injuries has also increased. According to a survey done by the Hong Kong Department of Health, over 37% of injuries sustained by those in the 15-24 age group were caused by exercise2. In this article, we have collated a simple first aid guide on what you should do if you meet with acute injuries while engaging in exercise.

    What are some common sports injuries and which sports are more prone to injury?

    Some sports that are gaining popularity include football and basketball, which involves a lot of jumping, turning and intense collision. As a result, these sports are likely to result in injury3. One of the most common sites of sports injury is at the knee joint. If the injury at the knee joint is not treated properly, it would not be easy to stabilize the joint in the future. Should you tear a knee cartilage, also known as a sprained ankle, it is important to stop exercising immediately and start treatment. Apply ice to the swollen area as soon as possible, then stabilize the knee with a bandage to stabilize it. After which, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

    Compared to ball sports, running is easier to get into, and with a simple set of exercise clothes and running shoes, you can run anytime, anywhere. However, because it is a non-contact sport, many people underestimate the fact that it is one of the easiest sports to get injured. Many people tend to overlook warming up before a run. Thus, ligament and ankle sprains are common. Running without adequate warm-up can easily cause ligament sprains and ankle sprains. Moreover, the rise in street running culture in recent years, has resulted in more cases of twisted ankles due to uneven ground surfaces.

    What is a sprained ankle, also known as a twisted ankle?

    An ankle sprain is one of the more common sport injuries. It is usually defined as the outward or inward twist of the ankle. For example, if you accidentally twist your ankle while running, it can cause a sprain. In serious cases, a sprained ankle can lead to the tearing or fracturing of ligaments. The blood vessels in the area of the sprain burst, resulting in congestion, causing swelling and pain. It may even be difficult to balance the ankle and foot. Not sure what to do in the case of an ankle sprain? Here are four steps you can follow to handle the situation.

    Step 1: Raise the injured area

    Objective: Stop additional swelling at the sprained area.

    Method: To reduce swelling and improve blood circulation, lie down and slowly elevate the sprained area.

    Step 2: Apply a cold compress

    Objective: Decrease inflammation and pain in the affected area.

    Method: Place wrapped ice cubes in a towel on the sprained area every 2-4 hours for about 10-15 minutes. Do not apply ice directly to the affected area as it can result in nerve damage or frostbite.

    Step 3: Apply pressure by wrapping a bandage around the affected area

    Objective: Applying pressure helps to reduce bruising and swelling.

    Method: Wrap the affected area with an elastic bandage to apply the appropriate pressure on it. If the bandage is wrapped too loosely, it will not be able to achieve the purpose of applying pressure. If it is wrapped too tightly, it could cause numbness and poor blood circulation.

    Step 4: Have enough rest

    Objective: Ensure that the affected area has enough rest to avoid overexertion of the ligaments and worsening of pain.

    Method: Rest and reduce activity within 48 hours of the injury. Slowly resume normal activities after 48 hours, depending on the degree of pain and extent of the injury.

    There are different degrees and recovery times of ankle sprains. The sprains are classified into three levels: mild sprain, moderate sprain, severe sprain. Each level of sprain has different recovery times.

    Level 1: Mild sprain

    Ankle ligaments are not significantly torn, slight swelling at the ankle, the ability to move is not affected greatly.

    Recovery time: Approximately 2-3 weeks.

    Level 2: Moderate sprain

    Certain ankle ligaments are torn, swelling and pain is significant. There could be bruises appearing in the affected area. One could experience severe pain when walking.

    Recovery time: Approximately 4-6 weeks.

    Level 3: Severe sprain

    In severe sprains, the ankle ligaments could be torn completely, which could even damage nerve fibers. While the pain level may not be as high as a moderate sprain, there will be extensive bruising, inhibiting walking.

    Recovery time: Approximately 8-12 weeks.

    How can you prevent ankle sprains?

    Prevention is better than curing. Here are some ways that to prevent you from suffering from a sprain:

    Ensure you do a proper warm up

    It is common for people to skip warming up and head straight to exercising. The recommended time to spend on warming up is about 5-10 minutes. Warming up before exercising and cooling down afterwards can help to prevent sprains and strains.

    Use sports bandages

    Sports bandages can help in stabilizing the ankle joint during exercise. Most people have the habit of engaging in intense exercise only during the weekends, but they should avoid doing so as it could result in over exertion of the body. It is recommended to engage in workouts across the week and not just during the weekends.

    Train your lower body

    Training your lower body daily can help reduce the possibility of spraining your ankle. Some exercise that you can try include:

    • Stand on one leg for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat 3 times. This can help to train your muscles at the lower limb and your balance.
    • Jump or squat on one leg for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. This helps to train the stability of the ankle joint.
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