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Get Back in the Game: Home Treatments for Common Sports Injuries

young woman warming up for exerciseWe all know that warming up is a key part of avoiding sports injuries when we play or exercise, but that doesn’t mean we always take the time to do it! Some of the most common sports injuries are hard to avoid if you don’t have a preparation plan and guidelines you really stick to. And even the best preparation is no guarantee against injury, so it’s important to know what you can do when they happen. These home treatments will help keep your recovery time to a minimum and protect you from further injury.

Rules of the Game: Your Keys to Avoiding Sports Injuries

A little stretching or pre-workout routine is only part of what any athlete needs to stay healthy and in the game. The reality is that most sports injuries are caused by overuse, not trauma, and that means many of them are preventable with the right kind of consistent preparations.

  • Perform dynamic stretching: Dynamic stretching helps prepare the muscles for performance or activity in a safe, controlled manner. This kind of stretching will help improve your range of motion, power and flexibility.
  • Wear the right equipment: Using the right equipment is a huge safety measure. Always wear the right shoes, protective pads, helmets, mouthpieces and eyewear.  Make sure the equipment fits properly and is secured during activity.
  • Take breaks: Listen to your body when you become fatigued! Taking breaks will help reduce the risk of your body becoming overheated or pushed too far.
  • Strengthen muscles and endurance: When practicing for sports, use conditioning exercises to help build and strengthen muscles.  This includes knowing and using proper form and technique for your sport or activity.
  • Avoid playing in pain: If pain develops or you become injured, stop immediately. Prompt first aid treatment is critical to healing and avoiding further injury.  
  • Know and follow the rules of the sport you are playing: Most sports have rules that help protect players from serious injuries. You should always follow these rules. “Headfirst sliding” in baseball and softball, “spearing” in football, and “checking” in hockey are all forbidden for a good reason—to keep you and others safe.

Effective Home Treatments for the Most Common Sports Injuries

Certain parts of our bodies are more prone to injuries. Your knees might seem like a simple joint in your body, but the number of ways they can become injured is amazing! Injuries are always disappointing setbacks for any athlete or sports enthusiast, but remember that beginning treatment immediately after becoming injured is the key to getting back on the field or court.

Sprains/Strains:

Strengthening exercises will help prevent mild sprains and strains. When they occur, use RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) such as ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil are useful for pain control and reducing inflammation. Always use these medications as directed, and not for long periods of time. If the sprain/strain is severe, you will need to seek medical care from a physician or other provider.


Groin Pulls:

Groin pulls can be treated using ice and rest to reduce pain and swelling. Some cases may take up to six weeks for a full recovery. Use ice for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for at least 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone. Compression of the injured area will also help, along with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) such as ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil for pain control and reducing inflammation. Always use these medications as directed, and not for long periods of time.  Stretching may also relieve pain associated with groin pulls. These techniques should produce noticeable improvement within days. If the pain is not improving, you should seek medical care from a health care provider.


Shin Splints:

Orthotics, insoles, and proper shoes that provide arch support may help prevent shin splints or their recurrence.  Shin splints usually improve by stopping the activity. Use ice for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for at least 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone. Use NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) such as ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil for pain control and reducing inflammation. Always use these medications as directed, and not for long periods of time.


Knee Injuries:

Knee injuries can be a bit tricky to diagnose or treat at home. Common knee injuries include sprained ligaments, meniscus tears, tendonitis, fractures, and runner’s knee. The first recommended treatment for knee injuries is RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). If you have symptoms such as popping, severe pain, inability to move, limping (because the knee is unable to bear weight), or severe swelling, your injury requires medical attention.  


Tennis Elbow:

Overuse is the cause of tennis elbow, and the best treatment for it is rest. Apply ice to the affected elbow in 15 minutes sessions at least 3-4 times per day to help with pain and swelling. A supportive elbow brace may be useful as the affected areas are healing. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) such as ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil can be used for pain control and to reduce inflammation. Always use these medications as directed, and not for long periods of time.


Concussions:

Concussions are a serious condition that need immediate medical evaluation. Symptoms of a concussion may not immediately appear, so it is important for a medical professional to recommend the appropriate course of treatment. Treatment may include radiological scans, a neurological evaluation that could require rest, limited activity, and hospitalization in severe cases.

The Road to Recovery From Your Injury

Sports injuries are bound to happen, but hopefully you can see how many of the most common problems are preventable. Overuse injuries often occur through incremental, compounded stress over time, so caring for what might seem like a minor ache now can help prevent a major pain later! If you or a family member are injured and these home treatments don’t relieve your pain, you may need to seek medical attention. The providers at InstaCare are ready to help find the right treatments on your road to recovery, and without having to wait days for an appointment. Skip the wait and reserve a spot online for your same-day or next-day appointment today.

 

Christie Leath, NP

Post Author:

Christie Leath, FNP-C at InstaCare.