A key skill for many individuals in the Hamilton County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is the ability to perform first-aid on victims of emergency situations. These particular skills help save lives in times of emergency. Now, obviously providing first-aid for foot and ankle injuries is not usually a matter of life and death, but it’s still an important skill you should know to prevent a condition from worsening!
Sports injuries are, naturally, injuries that happen during athletic participation or exercise. They can (and do) happen in games, practices, or even off-season workouts. No matter when the injury is sustained, first-aid is an essential step for preventing further damage or injury.
There are many different ways the body can become injured during physical activities, with some of the more common injuries including:
- Ankle sprains – Twisting your foot excessively damages the tendons that anchor the bones to each other and provide support for the structure.
- Achilles tendinitis – Your Achilles tendon is a strong connective tissue, but overuse or suddenly increasing your levels of physical activity can lead to issues.
- Plantar fasciitis – This is also an overuse injury, except it causes pain in the bottom of the heel (instead of the back like Achilles tendinitis does).
- Turf toe – These are two words no football, basketball, or soccer player wants to hear. This condition is a sprain in the first joint of the big toe.
- Stress fractures – When bones are subjected repeatedly to high-impact forces, it can lead to tiny, hairline fractures. In spite of their small size, stress fractures can cause big pain.
With regard to first-aid techniques for foot and ankle sports injuries, always start by removing yourself (or the injured individual) from the sport or activity. Once in a safe location or off the field, initiate the RICE protocol, which is:
- Rest – Protect the injured area by providing rest and keeping weight off it. This will help prevent the injury from worsening and allow the body to begin its natural healing processes.
- Ice – Apply an ice pack (wrapped in a thin towel or t-shirt to prevent skin damage) to the injured area as soon as possible to decrease pain and swelling. Keep the ice applied for 15 – 20 minutes at a time and repeat every couple of hours.
- Compression – Use an elastic wrap or bandage and wrap it tightly (but not too tight) around the injured area. If numbness, tingling, or a change in skin tone is present, loosen the wrap a bit.
- Elevation – Keep the injury elevated above heart level to further decrease swelling and inflammation.