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What is the Best Sports Injury Treatment?

By Dr. Riley Williams with contribution from Evan Schwartz .

Many athletes agree that there is nothing more frustrating than an injury. Whether you are a football player sitting on the sidelines or a casual runner stuck sitting on the recuperation couch, you know the frustration.

Whether it’s strains, sprains, or tears, nearly every injury treatment involves the same recipe for recovery: time. Our bodies are adept at healing, but the process takes time, and pushing yourself before you are ready can lead to further injury.

So what is the best sports injury treatment? First, it helps to understand what a sports injury is. Then, it helps to know how to treat them. Most important of all, it helps to know how to prevent sports injuries from happening in the first place.

What is a sports injury?

Here’s the definition – an injury sustained during an athletic endeavor. Seems obvious, right? The real truth is that most sports injuries occur from a traumatic impact of some kind or from overuse. If you run every day for two weeks and develop knee tendonitis, that’s a sports injury. But if you go for a run, stumble, and strain a knee ligament, that’s also a sports injury.

The absolute best sports injury treatment is prevention.

The question becomes: which of these situations is preventable? If two basketball players bang knees together while going for a rebound, that’s a fluke injury- flukes happen.  On the other hand, overuse injuries can be prevented through proper warm up, cool down, stretching, and rest.

How To Treat A Sports Injury

Once you’ve sustained a sports injury, the best treatment is RICE: Rest, Ice (really Cold therapy, not ice!), Compression, and Elevation. If you sprain an ankle during a tennis match, make sure to stay off your feet, apply a cold compress to your ankle, use a compression sleeve or wrap, and keep it elevated.

Obviously, the absolute best sports injury treatment is prevention.

How to Prevent A Sports Injury

Impact and fluke injuries are hard to prevent. But you may be increasing your odds for injury before you’ve even stepped on the field or into the gym.

First, look at your warm up. Stiff muscles are more easily strained and stiff joints are more easily sprained, so make sure to increase your body temperature and loosen your muscles and joints before you begin any kind of physical activity.

Stretch after warming up; if you do it before warming up it is somewhat counterproductive because your muscles and connective tissue are cold and brittle relative to post-warm up.  Stretching helps elongate your muscles and increase joint flexibility, both of which have been proven to help prevent injuries and improve athletic performance.

After your workout, give yourself a cool-down period. Don’t sprint a mile and then flop down on the ground for an hour. Keep your body moving so that your muscles have time to cool down while still being engaged. Stretch again, and use cold therapy on any problem pain areas like knees, elbows, or neck muscles.  Cold therapy after workouts helps reduce pain-inducing inflammation.

The best sports injury treatment is making sure you don’t get injured at all., and a proper warm up and cool down will put you on the right track for injury prevention.

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