It can happen to any athlete, no matter the activity level, skill level, or experience. Injuries occur no matter how well conditioned you are because the human body can only take so much punishment before it begins to break down. Bone, ligaments, tendons, or other soft tissues like muscles can and will get weakened and require some form of rehabilitation of the injury or even outright cessation of the activity that caused it.
Dealing with sports related injuries is not as complicated as might be expected. There are some simple things to do once an injury occurs but let’s start with some easy things to do to avoid most injuries in the first place, which can save much trouble later on.
The first is to be properly conditioned before beginning a sport, such as tennis for example, and this will allow an athlete to be better prepared when playing. When an athlete is in better shape overall they are less likely to be injured. The muscles are stronger, better able to handle the habitual stress of contact with the hard court underneath and the repetitive pounding of striking the racquet to the ball over and over.
Falls happens occasionally and when an athlete is physically better equipped to handle this they are more likely to avoid injury in the first place. Bone density is increased with resistance training and the muscles stronger. Flexibility, the ability of muscles to more easily move through a more complete range of motion, is also important to have when training as a tennis player. Overall conditioning such as having greater muscular endurance can help ensure less trauma to the body.
So better muscular strength, endurance and flexibility help to create a situation where injuries occur less frequently but what about when an injury has already happened? There are some simple things to remember, an acronym in fact, that will help anyone to speed up their recovery time.
The acronym to remember is P.R.I.C.E., so let’s go through each letter and see what they each represent.
The first letter, P stands for Protection. If the injury is as bad as a broken bone then you will be wearing a cast, that’s obvious. The protection is taken care of. But if it is a minor sprain or muscle strain or otherwise, protecting the area is a bit trickier. Still, this is rectified by wearing a simple sports wrap made of nylon or even something a little thicker like a brace. It can be a strap on brace, a pull on brace or one that must be prescribed by a physical therapist, such as a brace with metal parts that fully supports the joint.
The next letter R stands for Rest. This is easy to understand. Just resting the body part or even the entire body for a few days can allow the athlete to heal on their own. This doesn’t mean a complete cessation of activity, though this can be ideal, because the rest of the body can be worked out.
The letter I stands for Ice. Simple. The injured area should be iced for 15-20 minutes per day, twice a day. It can be more. One thing to keep in mind in addition to the above frequency of use, anyone icing their injury should not have the ice in direct contact with skin. Instead, place a towel in between the ice and injured part, wrapping it if necessary.
The next one coincides with P because C stands for Compression. A wrap, tightly wound around the area should keep the area compressed and thus protected from further injury and keep it from getting worse through normal daily movement.
The last letter E stands for Elevation and this is important to reduce normal swelling associated with the first couple of days following an injury. Keep the injured area elevated above the heart for as long as possible during the day.
Remember P.R.I.C.E and the injury should improve soon.