The principles involved in exercise and sports injury therapies are assessment, management, rehabilitation and prevention. Assessing an injury is the first step towards ascertaining the type of injury it is, and whether it deals in a muscle, ligament, bone or tendon. A therapist must then know how to manage it and choose between rest, movement, ice, heat, traction or exercise for the area.
Rehabilitation is a long road and may take many steps, including exercises and workout plans, placing the injured part in a cast for months on end, and possible surgical procedures and the many months it takes to recover from them. Finally, a therapist must know how to teach the athlete how to prevent and reduce the possibility of injuring the joint or muscle again. This process may include wrapping the area with a brace during play or establishing a consistent regiment of ice and heat therapies after play to ensure that the joint is not worn down over time.
Hot vs. Cold Sports Injury Therapies
The difference between these two different therapies is primarily in the type of injury incurred as well as the time frame after it has taken place. Cold therapy (also known as cryotherapy) is most effective during the first 48 hours after an injury and is used to constrict blood vessels and easing the pain in the area. The application of heat, whether through a hot water bottle or a heating pad, increases blood flow to the area to remove dead cells from damaged tissues and bring healing nutrients to the site.
However, hot therapy should not be administered during the first 48 hours, as it can lead to further swelling of the blood in the area. If ice is placed on the injured body part and yet the swelling refuses to subside, a therapist or doctor can prescribe anti-inflammation drugs that will help the healing process continue. Once the inflammation goes down, a therapist may help the athlete stretch the joint and reduce the pain by massaging the muscles surrounding the damaged tissue.