1. If you get injured, STOP PLAYING IMMEDIATELY! This is an extremely simple concept that those who get injured can put into action immediately and easily. “Suck it up” and “Walk it off” are not good strategies for caring for an injury.
2: The acronym RICE will help you remember what to do and in what order: RICE stands for: Rest it, Ice it, Compress it, and Elevate it. This is the gold standard in the athletic training world. Just to be clear: the ‘I’ in RICE stands for ICE, NOT heating pads and hot tubs. I would also like to add the letter “S” for the word “Support” to this acronym, as in the various support devices that help to stabilize the area. But, I believe the acronym RICES seems a bit strange and not as catchy for anyone to remember.
3: Seek out a health care professional or injury specialist. In this day and age it may be as simple as walking to the sideline. Many teams now have athletic trainers and coaches on staff that can handle the evaluation and, on occasion, care for some injuries. Side note: Athletic trainers do not receive the respect that they deserve. They are the top of the food chain when it comes to the evaluation of acute injuries, and they are often placed in difficult situations. They sometimes make life-altering judgment calls in a matter of seconds, and they, for the most part, do one heck of a great job. It is easy to criticize when you see an injury the next day in the comfort of a clinic, and the treatment plan and/or diagnosis might change, but that takes nothing away from what the trainer did for urgent care. I have tremendous respect for what they do!
4: Let your body heal! Jump back into the game too early because you feel “OK” and you will quickly learn what a second or secondary injury feels like. A complete healing cycle must occur for the injury to heal properly. This process can be accelerated but only through the help of a professional who treats injuries.
5: DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD! I do not go to my tax accountant to receive tax advice and then flush that advice down the toilet and do whatever I want. In sports, this behavior can get you seriously injured. If you have recommendations from a professional, listen and implement the advice, including:
- Take the necessary time off to heal
- Follow the treatment protocol diligently
- Follow the rehabilitation plan to get yourself back to being able to perform
It’s sad to say but injuries do happen. Acute injuries can become chronic, and chronic injuries are the most prevalent cause of diminished sports performance. Decreased performance leads to the demise of the athlete. general, take responsibility for your health and seek help when necessary. Then you get to talk about what you are able to do now instead of what you “used to be able to do”.