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Minor injury when exercising? Don’t panic, STS First Aid can help.


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The benefits of sports and exercise far outweigh the risks, but occasionally injuries do happen. At STS First Aid we get lots of questions about sports injuries and what to do, the guide below should answer your biggest questions.


What causes sports injuries

Sports injuries can be caused by:

  • An accident – such as a fall or heavy blow

  • Not warming up properly before exercising

  • Using inappropriate equipment or poor technique

  • Pushing yourself too hard

Almost any part of the body can be injured, including the muscles, bones, joints and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments). The ankles and knees are particularly prone to injury.

What to do if you have an injury

If you’ve injured yourself, you may have immediate pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, and restricted movement or stiffness in the affected area. Sometimes, these symptoms may only be noticeable several hours after exercising or playing sports.

Stop exercising if you feel pain, regardless of whether your injury happened suddenly or you’ve had the pain for a while. Continuing to exercise while injured may cause further damage and slow your recovery. If you have a minor injury, you do not usually need to see a doctor and can look after yourself at home. However, you may want to visit a GP, local minor injuries unit or NHS walk-in centre for advice if your symptoms do not get better over time. If you have a severe injury, such as a broken bone, dislocation or severe head injury, go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible. Here’s how to treat minor injuries:

Sprained limbs

Probably the most common injury seen on a sports field and luckily one of the easiest to contend with. The NHS recommends that for the first few days after an sprain you should follow rice therapy –

  • Rest – stop any exercise or activities and try not to put any weight on the injury.

  • Ice – apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel) to the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.

  • Compression – wrap a bandage around the injury to support it.

  • Elevate – keep it raised on a pillow as much as possible.

Grazes and cuts

Small cuts can be sore but are sorted easily, sliding tackles, especially on 3G pitches can lead to friction burns.

  • Thoroughly irrigate superficial cuts and grazes with a large volume of drinkable water until there is no foreign matter in the wound. Slightly warm water can be more comfortable than cold. A little bleeding will help to wash out germs so don’t worry.

  • Pat the wound dry with a sterile swab then cover with a plaster or low adherent dressing.

  • Seek medical advice if you are unsure if the casualty’s tetanus immunisation is up to date.


The main aim when treating a bruise is to reduce swelling.

  • Wrap an ice pack in a tea towel or triangular bandage. Place it on the bruise and apply pressure for 10 minutes.

  • If you don’t have an ice pack, cold running water will help.

Preventing sports injuries

You can reduce your risk of getting injured by:

  • Warming up properly before exercise.

  • Not pushing your body beyond your current fitness level.

  • Using the right equipment – for example, wearing running shoes for running, shin guards for football, and a gum shield for rugby.

  • When starting a new sport or activity, get advice and training from a qualified fitness trainer or sports coach.

It’s ok to read about how to do these things but we always think the best way to learn is through face to face, practical training. At STS First Aid, we have been training people for over 30 years. So if you would like to learn about first aid in more detail book one of our courses or call 020 8211 2054 to speak to one of our experts and they will help you understand what course is best for you.

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