Injured Athletes Need Time to Rest

Coming Back Too Soon will Make Problem Worse

Your child comes home from basketball practice complaining her ankle hurts. After learning how it happened, the first questions parents want answered is about the severity of the injury and how to treat it. Those are good answers to know especially since early, proper injury treatment leads to better outcomes. When an injury is not treated correctly early on, it can become more serious and take longer to heal.

When an athlete is injured, the first thing to remember is the acronym RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest is an easy direction to understand. As for icing, place wrapped ice on the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day – never place ice directly on the skin. Compression and elevation ease swelling.

If following RICE for a few days does not help the athlete feel better or if the pain or swelling gets worse, it is time to see a medical provider for an evaluation. Depending on the injury, a medical provider will test for range of motion, determine where the patient feels the most pain and order an x-ray to check if any bones are broken. After the evaluation, the athlete will receive a plan of care that may include a brace, taping, medication to alleviate pain or physical therapy to help regain mobility.

Athletes who decide to “tough it out” risk making their injury worse. After any injury, rest is a vital part of the healing process. If someone continues to play or practice on an injured ankle, for example, it does not have time to heal properly. Playing on that injured ankle will make it worse and the athlete may end up missing even more practices and games.

Athletes with ongoing pain or soreness should also have it checked out since that is also an indication of an injury. If the problem is not dealt with, a more serious injury could occur to sideline the player. It is always important to listen to the body’s aches or pains since it is telling you that something is not right.

Parents, please encourage your children to report any injuries or pain they’re experiencing to their coaches and if they are injured, do not push them to return to the game until they feel ready. As for athletes, do not be afraid to speak up when something does not feel right. It is not worth risking a serious injury that may cause a lifetime of problems for a single high school sports season.

Cassandra Glodowski is a licensed athletic trainer with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care who works with athletes at Waupaca High School.