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Activity After Injury: Reduce, Rest, or Stop?

July 31, 2003 02:27 PM

by Jim Brown, Author, Sports Talent: How to Identify and Develop Outstanding Athletes

Following an injury, tennis players have three options. The first is to cut back on their training schedules. The second is to rest the injury, but continue exercising. And then there are times when they should stop playing and practicing altogether. How do you know what to do and when to do it?

Lyle J. Micheli, M.D., author of The Sports Medicine Bible, has developed the guidelines below to help athletes classify their injuries according to severity. With each set of guidelines, he also suggests some first aid procedures and exercise restrictions.

Mild
Mild injuries are those in which performance is not affected. The only pain that is felt occurs after an exercise session. The affected area is not tender to the touch, is not discolored, and is not swollen. For these injuries:

  • reduce your training schedule
  • modify your activity to take stress off of the injury
  • use the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • take over-the-counter pain medicine

Moderate
Moderate injuries have some effect on performance. Not only is there pain after activity, the area is mildly sensitive to the touch and there may be limited swelling and discoloration. For moderate injuries:

  • rest the injured area
  • change your exercise routine to reduce stress in the area
  • employ the RICE/OTC treatments
  • gradually return to full activity

Severe
Severe injuries hurt all of the time. Daily activities, normal movement, and performance are limited by pain. In addition to severe swelling and discoloration, the pain in intense when pressure is put on the area. With severe injuries:

  • stop all exercise and sports participation
  • see a sports medicine physician

@ 2003 HMS Publishing, Inc.

Jim Brown will be contributing new content to this site on a monthly basis. If you have a question for Dr. Brown please feel free to email him at sportsmed@mindspring.com.

 

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