The 48-72 hours following a match are as important to a player’s performance at the next match as the training on a Tuesday or Thursday night.
Whether a player has sustained a significant soft tissue injury or simply “pulled up a bit sore”, implementing some simple, but effective measures can make the difference between playing with discomfort or performing unhindered by pain and stiffness.
Things to avoid
Heat causes blood vessels to open up, increasing blood flow to the injured area, swelling and pain.
Alcohol also opens up blood vessels, having a similar effect as heat. Increased confidence and loss of co-ordination can also place the player at risk of further injury. Alcohol also facilitates dehydration.
Massage also increases blood flow and can further damage injured tissue.
Overactivity leads to further risk of injury and increased blood flow.
Post-game management can be divided into four stages, some or all of which may be implemented, depending on the severity of the injury sustained.
- Initial treatment (48-72 hours) This includes the old faithful RICE regime (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation of the injury or body as a whole). The value of cryotherapy (cooling of the injured part via cold water), cold sprays, application of ice or ice baths should never be underestimated. 10-20 minute applications hourly over the first six hours, followed by 4-6 applications daily over the next two days is advisable. Thankfully, many clubs are now employing the Sunday morning cold water session as part of their post-game regime. Fluid intake is also important to restore correct hydration and blood volume. You can’t beat H2O!
- Injury diagnosis Early accurate diagnosis of an injury is essential for appropriate treatment and rehabilitation to commence. Sports physicians and physiotherapists are best qualified for this.
- Follow-up treatment This is dictated by the level and nature of the injury or discomfort. A mix of rest, cryotherapy, heat treatment, physiotherapy, massage therapy, medications or surgery may need to be used. Don’t use heat in the first 48-72 hours and massage in the first 2-5 days, depending on the nature of the injury.
- Rehabilitation Again, depending on the injury, a specific and comprehensive rehabilitation program needs to be adhered to. This may be as simple as substituting a light hydrotherapy or skills session instead of a hard Tuesday night training session.
Corio Bay Sports Medicine Centre (Ph 5221 8822) provides a free post-game injury assessment session with a senior physiotherapist each Sunday morning for players of clubs which are part of our Sports Membership Scheme. Our clinic in Norlane (Northern Physiotherapy Centre Ph 5275 3676) offers the same service each Monday evening.