What to Do First When You Have an Injury

10July 2016

Prevention and Protection

InjuryProtect against further damage by supporting the injured part using tape, strapping, splints, slings or mobility aids.

The last thing you want is after a weeks recovery you go back to normal activities when your injury hasn’t healed and you regress the injury back by a week and make it worse than it originally was and even worse you strain the opposite side as it is compensating for the injured side!

Rest for the next 72 hours following an injury.

Immobilisation allows the injured body part for the initial healing process to complete and prevents it being damaged any further. If you continue to exercise on an injury it can prolong the injury and turn a relatively minor problem into a major one. If the injury is not too painful, some very gentle oscillatory movements can help the healing process but seek advice from a professional first.


Remove any compression and apply an ice pack / ice cubes or bag of frozen vegetables (wrapped in a damp cloth to prevent an ice burn) immediately for an initial period of 5 minutes; if the skin is red or pink after this time, the ice should be taken off. If the skin is a normal colour, the ice pack should be placed on the injured area for another 5 or 10 minutes taking care to monitor the skin. (shorter times for more bony areas such as the ankle). Ice should generally not be left on the skin for more than 20 minutes as this may cause damage to the surface of the skin. This should be repeated every 2 to 3 hours for 72 hours; this can mean setting the alarm clock to wake you at 2-hour intervals during the night.

Precautions for using ice, it should not be applied to skin that has been damaged so to prevent water getting into the wounded place the ice pack in a plastic bag. Ice packs should not be used on the left shoulder of a person who suffers with heart problems or on people with diabetes.


A compression bandage will further reduce swelling and help to protect the area from further injury. Make sure you use a semi-rigid elastic tape, do not apply too tightly. If unsure seek medical advice. A simple way to apply compression easily is with cling film. Do not use a compression bandage when sleeping.

The most significant effect of compression is to reduce internal bleeding in the soft tissue surrounding the injury. Compression also reduces inflammation and swelling. Supports and specialist clothing are often used by professional sports players to protect from injury during physical activity; compression shorts, ankle and wrist supports are examples of these.


Elevate the injured part whenever possible above the level of your heart. Whilst elevated remove compression. By reducing

What does ice do?  

It helps recovery in 2 ways:

  1. There is evidence to show that Ice stops part of the inflammatory process Ice is most effective in controlling inflammation using many short applications.
  2. It reduces pain by reducing muscle spas. Reducing the firing rate and sensitivity of the nerve receptors which perceive pain. It gives the brain something else to think about!   It was previously thought that you had to wait 2 hours before reapplying ice, research has now found that more frequent applications are more beneficial as long as the skin is in good condition.

Compression – How does it work?  

Injury leads to loss of fluid from vessels, applying pressure reduces the swelling (fluid) accumulating at the injury site. It also helps prevent further pain and re-injury and helps keep the injured part in a good position for healing Evidence shows that bandaging is of no benefit and that you need to use a semi –rigid/ elastic tape. This is especially useful over a joint /ligament injury such as a sprained ankle.


Removing the effect of gravity reduces the flow of tissue fluid down the limb. The limb needs to be elevated above the level of your heart to be effective.

How Can an Osteopathy Massage Therapist Help?

Pain management through treatment, advice and reassurance.

Advice and reassurance on how to prevent the injury from reoccurring.

Through therapy and advice, we can help to reduce shortening of ligaments, muscles, tendons and fascia which can cause long term pain.

Help to reduce or break down unwanted scar tissue which can also lead to shortening of ligaments, tendons, muscles, and fascia.

Ensure that the healing process is not impeded by poorly perfused muscles due to overly tight muscles.

Initiate a graded rehabilitation once the injury has started to heal with a planned routine of activities.

Reduce soreness and increase a range of movement in other areas of the body due to changed walking/sitting patterns or overuse of the opposite side of the body.