With the excitement of the Olympics getting closer by the day, many more of us may be inspired to reach for our trainers and get fit this summer.
Everyone should try to do some physical activity, but it can lead to more aches, strains and sprains, especially if you aren’t used to exercising regularly.
So NHS clinicians in the south are urging everyone to follow some basic advice before hitting the streets, tennis court, gym or football pitch to avoid strains and sprains.
Dr Stuart Ward, medical director for the SHIP PCT cluster – which covers Portsmouth and Hampshire – says there’s some important advice everyone should follow.
‘It can be tempting to try to push yourself, especially if you are with friends,’ he says.
‘So the first piece of advice is not to get too competitive.
‘It’s very important to warm up properly for a minimum of 10 minutes.
‘Start with a few minutes of gentle exercise, such as walking or jogging, to get the blood flowing to your muscles. Gradually increase the pace until you are running briskly.
‘Once your muscles are warm, do some gentle stretching exercises, paying particular attention to the muscle groups that you will be using – for example, legs for running and arms and shoulders for racquet sports.’
A gentle cool-down after exercise will mean less muscle stiffness and soreness afterwards.
Most mild sports injuries can be self-treated and will start to improve within 72 hours without the need for a GP appointment.
Stuart adds: ‘We recommend RICE therapy for mild sprains and strains – this stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.
‘Rest the injured joint or muscle and avoid activity.
‘Apply ice or frozen veg wrapped in a damp towel to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes, every two to three hours during the day, but not while you sleep.
‘Use an elastic bandage to limit any swelling, but take the bandage off before you got to sleep.
‘Keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to reduce swelling.
‘Taking paracetamol will relieve any pain.’
High street pharmacy staff can give advice on treating mild strains, sprains, aches and pains.
Pharmacy staff are working with the local NHS to help people to use the right health service first time, as part of the Choose Well campaign.
Health leaders believe more than 51 million people a year who visit their GP with common complaints could either care for themselves or visit their local high street pharmacy for help.
More information about avoiding sporting injuries this summer can be found by logging on to choosewell.org.uk