Managing Injuries – Call the POLICE!!

While accidents through contact account for most injuries in rugby, a large number also result from inadequate or inappropriate preparation, or returning to play after being injured without adequate rehabilitation. Physiotherapy offers effective treatment for sports injuries and can help reduce your risk of injury…

What are the most common causes of sports injuries?

  • Inadequate and/or inappropriate fitness and preparation for sport.

Players rushing their return back into training without the adequate base of fitness or preparation is an age old issue… Be weary of the Rocky Balboa “No pain, No gain” attitude. Our advice is to grade your return – start with a little but often approach and build from there. Remember to always warm up, combined with dynamic stretches… Always finish with a warm down stretch and always use recovery methods (ICE baths, compression garments, sports massage).

  • Inappropriate training such as doing too much and repeating the same activities.

Pain during or after exercise is a signal that your body may be having problems, that shouldn’t be ignored. Always include variety in your training… Use a good mix of running, cross-training, resistance training and don’t forget to rest!!! Rest is an essential part of any training regime for reducing the risk of injury, ensure that recovery techniques are big part of your weekly program.

  • Improper equipment

the wrong type of sportswear can increase injury risk. Ensure you have appropriate footwear, clothing and protective equiptment appropriate to the conditions and playing surface.

  • Incorrect technique and posture

Incorrect tackle technique during collisions, notably in contact sports such as rugby can result in serious injury.
 Insufficient rehabilitation and / or returning to sport too soon following an injury can also effect an athletes ability to perform optimum technique, increasing the risk of injury.

What should I do if I have a problem?

The level of pain usually indicates the seriousness of an injury. If you experience severe pain, extensive bruising or immediate swelling you should book an appointment with a Chartered Physiotherapist ASAP.

However, for mild sprains or strains you can apply the POLICE principle…
P – Protection means supporting the injured area by taping or bracing, to protect against further damage. Always seek expert support and advice, as poor strapping can make some injuries worse.

OL – Optimal loading means working out what you can do, without injuring yourself any more. Utilising non-damaging movements, is known as “optimal loading”. Keeping tissues moving allows proteins and hormones to be released, which actually promote faster healing.

The difficulty is that patients often find it hard to work out what is “optimal loading”, what is doing more damage, and what is resting too much.  It’s often a fine, but the speed of the recovery process depends on getting it right. This is where seeing a Physiotherapist as soon as possible is valuable. We can use our expertise to help you find the perfect balance – which in turn will accelerate the healing process. We can also help to advise on protection, such as braces, crutches and supports.

A physiotherapist will help you to grade your movement – as you heal, your optimal level of loading will change, so will the intensity and power of any exercises.  This needs to be done gradually and will also depend on your personal rate of healing (and general well-being).

I – ICE – apply an ice pack immediately for 20 minutes (wrapped in a damp tea-towel with oil applied to the skin to prevent ice burns), and repeat every two hours.

Reduce the time to 10-20 minutes if you are applying ice over a bony area like your ankle. Applying heat and taking Anti-Inflammatory medication must be avoided during the first 72 hours
 of injury.

C – Compression – If unsure seek advice, but compression will help reduce swelling. Make sure you use a stretchy bandage and don’t apply it too tightly. A Game Ready unit which combines Ice therapy with compression, is the gold standard to enhance the healing process.

E – Elevation – elevate the injured part whenever possible. Ideally this should be above the level of your heart.
 If the injured area can be elevated, do not apply compression at the same time.

When should I see a physiotherapist?

The best policy is to apply the POLICE principles immediately following injury.
 If the injury does not improve significantly within 48 hours, make an appointment with a chartered physiotherapists.

What sort of help can
 a physiotherapists offer?

A physiotherapist will help relieve your symptoms and promote tissue healing. Before any action is taken, physiotherapists will assess and diagnose the problem, help you understand what’s wrong and explain how you can avoid further problems. They will help you to develop an effective treatment plan that takes into account your injury history, fitness and level of competition.

Your physiotherapist will give you specific rehabilitation exercises, to help you return to playing at full capacity and optimize your long-term recovery.

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