We all have our moments in life when we run into obstacles, whether metaphorically or physically. For the more clumsy and butter-fingered individuals among us, this may result in regular injuries that require varying amounts of treatment. However, this article is for informational purposes only! Please refer to a professional for further medical attention.

Sprains and Strains
25,000 people in the United States sprain their ankles every day. Almost everyone has experienced this type of injury by now, so it’s no wonder that it makes up 21% of all recorded incidents! A sprain is caused by the overextension of a ligament that stresses a joint whereas a strain is dealt to muscles or tendons. Both should be treated with the RICE procedure as long as the injury is mild: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Concussions (I think? .  .  .)
Together with sprains and strains, concussions make up 57% of all recorded injuries. But fear not, it’s a lot harder than it seems to get concussed! It takes at least 90 grams of force, which is about the equivalent of hitting your skull up against a wall at 32 km/hr. Common signs to look out for are headaches, nausea, blurry vision, and confusion, concentration, or memory problems. It may be hard to see any obvious physical changes but it is essential that anyone with a possible concussion sees a medic – concussions will make the brain more and more vulnerable to fatal injury.

The Ever-Present Bruise
When capillaries are broken by impact with no wounds in the skin to escape from, the blood leaks out and stays trapped under the skin. This causes a contusion, more commonly known as a bruise. Bruises should fully heal on their own in about 2 weeks and go through 4 stages of colour: light red, dark purple, green-blue, and eventually a pale disappearing yellow. Ice and gently rubbing the area can help to spread the blood quicker for those who can handle the pain. Girls are especially likely to bruise due to their delicate blood vessels, a result of more fat and less collagen. To everyone else – you won’t miss out! We’ll all experience this absolute joy of a weakness as we get older and our skin thins.

One Step Up – Bone Bruises and Fractures
Just like regular contusions, bone bruises are caused by impact – although to a higher degree – and are consequently more painful. However, this injury should NOT be treated with any type of activity that will increase blood flow to the area, only ice. A professional is recommended to rule out the possibility of it being a fracture . . . unless your limb is sticking out at an awkward angle. In that case, skip the last step and go straight to the emergency room. A doctor will most likely put you in a cast or appoint surgery. 

Tennis Elb-ow
Although tennis does boast the most victims, almost anything requiring hand-eye coordination can cause tennis elbow – even things like pickleball and painting! Extremely repeated motions of the thumb, wrist, and arm (often with bad form) result in the overuse of elbow tendons and causes pain through those areas. As long as nothing is torn, massaging tight spots on your forearm and taking time off to rest should make it feel better in a few weeks. Only after that should you start to improve your technique as a preventative measure for next time. However, this is more of a long-term injury, with a full recovery taking 6 to 18 months.

Shin Splints
The term “shin splints” refers to pain along the inner edge of your tibia, caused by the overworking of muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around it. This is common after sudden changes of frequency, intensity, or duration of physical exercise. Flat feet and improper footwear can also contribute to the swelling, so it’s important to gradually build up to an increased routine and plan ahead.

Knee Injuries: Horror!
Knee injuries are undoubtedly the worst of them all, encompassing a nasty range of impairments from patellar fractures to torn ACLs. They are especially prevalent in sports which require quick changes in direction, impact with the ground, and jumping up and down. Lacrosse, skiing, basketball, football, and volleyball are among the top 5 sports most likely to cause this type of injury. Unfortunately, there is no real way to avoid this risk. Choosing to play sports will inevitably put great pressure on your body, especially your knees which are relied on for almost anything athletic you do. If you suspect that you are particularly vulnerable, wear a knee brace in the meantime and ask your coach for strengthening exercises.

Sunburn – A Rite of Passage
Regarding this last “injury” – can you even call yourself an athlete if you haven’t been sunburnt before?! As many know, New Zealand is particularly vulnerable due to the ozone hole that sits right above us. It doesn’t help that Kiwis are the type to walk around in a shirt, shorts, and sandals no matter the weather. However, the good side is that we’ve been drilled since kindergarten to remember sunscreen and “no hat means no play”. Sunburn, although mild at face value, can lead to cancer (disastrously worse). Extra hydration, some lotions, and aloe vera can soothe the irritated skin but remember – prevention is always better than treatment!

The overall message? Rest, rest, rest. More practice today is not worth extra pain and no play for the next month. A few of us are most likely guilty of slacking off with physio treatment as well. LISTEN TO THE PROFESSIONALS! Some of these injuries may be a case of bad luck, but the majority are preventable. Know how far you can push your limits, and more importantly, know when it’s time to stop. Stay safe with your newfound knowledge!

14th April, 2024
Written by Ally Chu, edited by Hope Zhang
Certified by Josephine Sim (First Aid Level 2, First Responder Clinical 1)
Photo by Unsplash

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