Nurse bandaging a broken ankle isolated

Youth sports are great for so many reasons. They promote physical activity, form lifelong friendships, teach children the importance of teamwork, and they are just plain fun. Unfortunately, there is also a dark side of sports. That would be the injuries.

No matter how hard we try to improve the safety of our games, injuries are inevitable. On the bright side, there are ways to minimize damage if and when an injury is sustained. How you handle the immediate treatment can have a big impact on the recovery process down the road.

In order to prevent long-term setbacks, all you need to remember is four letters: RICE.

Rest: If you incur a soft tissue injury (such as a twisted ankle or sprained knee), the first thing you need to do is get off of your feet. Trying to “walk it off” or push through the pain is not a good idea, and can only make things worse. Rest the injured area as much as possible over the next two or three days.

Ice: When you start to swell up, the inflamed tissue compress your nearby nerves, which is what causes you pain. Applying ice to the injury tightens your blood vessels, which reduces blood flow and numbs the area, helping to ease this discomfort. Ice your injury for no more 15 minutes at a time and never apply the source directly to the skin.

Compression: Wrapping the area in a bandage reduces swelling by restricting blood flow much like ice does. Be careful not to wrap it too tight, which can increase pain and discomfort. If you start to go numb or experiencing a tingling sensation, re-wrap the bandage a little looser.

Elevation: Keeping the injured area elevated above heart level helps promote faster recovery. Say you sprained your ankle, keeping it elevated is as simple as laying down on your bed and propping it up on a couple of pillows.

If pain and swelling don’t decrease after three days of RICE, you may have a severe injury and it is time to see a doctor.

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