Spring is here, and as the weather warms up, many of us will be heading outdoors and participating in sports. With exercise, however, comes the increased possibility of injury. Most mild injuries can be treated without a visit to the hospital or a GP, and first aid can be very helpful for more serious situations too. If you are taking part in any organised sporting activity, like an amateur match or training session, it’s a good idea for there to be a first aid kit in the vicinity. You can browse our range of specialised sports first aid kits here.

Treating minor injuries

PRICE therapy

Mild sprains and strains can be treated at home with PRICE therapy for two of three days, and this may be effective enough to keep you from making a trip to the doctor’s surgery.

PRICE stands for:

  • Protection - Prevent further injury to the affected area. Using a joint support may help.
  • Rest - Avoid exercise and reduce movement of the affected area. For shoulder or arm injuries, a sling may help. You can use a triangular bandage for this. For leg injuries, you may find it useful to use crutches until it has healed.
  • Ice - Every two to three hours, apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables to the affected area for 15-20 minutes. Don’t apply directly to the skin, as this may cause a cold burn. For rapid relief on the field, you can stock your first aid kit with instant cold packs, which are activated when squeezed and can be applied directly to the body. Cooling sprays are also available.

    For ongoing therapy, you can buy reusable hot & cold therapy packs. For cold therapy, cool the pack in the freezer. These packs should never be applied directly to the skin, instead, use a towel or a special hot & cold therapy cover. These allow you to get on with your day without having to worry about holding a towel in place.
  • Compression - Use elastic compression bandages during the day to limit swelling. Both crepe bandagesand cohesive bandages can be used for this. You can also get a compression cuff to combine compression with hot or cold therapy.
  • Elevation - If possible, keep the affected area raised above the level of the heart as much as you can. This may help to reduce swelling.

Eye contamination

In many sports, depending on where they’re played, there may be a risk of grit, sand or other particles getting into the eye. Sterile eyewash pods are a handy, portable way of cleaning out the eye when there’s little or no clean water to hand. Whether you use eyewash or water, hold your eyelids open and wash your affected eye from the inside corner out, tilting your head so the water runs off your head and away from your other eye until the contaminant is gone. Have someone else check that your eye is clear before you stop. If it’s more serious and something is embedded in your eye, don’t try to remove it, get yourself to a hospital!

Minor blood injuries

Any cuts or abrasions that result in bleeding should be treated before you continue to play sports. This is because you run the risk of infection by getting dirt in the wound, and because the blood poses a health risk to other players. There are a variety of plasters (wash-proof ones being best for outdoor sports) and wound dressings available, which should be part of your sports first aid kit.

Before applying a plaster or wound dressing, clean the area around the wound, and the wound itself if it looks dirty, with water or alcohol-free sterile wipes, and ensure there’s nothing embedded in it. You may also want to use antiseptic cream, if available. If there is something embedded in the wound, seek medical help rather than attempting to remove it yourself. If there’s no first aid supplies nearby, you should wash your wound with water and stop playing. Even a minor cut can result in a serious infection if you’re not careful.

If you’re a frequent participant in sports, or work as a coach, match official or fitness instructor, enrol on a Safety First Aid Training 1 day sports first aid course!