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First Aid for Weekend Warriors


After years of being involved in amateur sports, as players, coaches, bystanders and parents, there are a few things we at Barossa Physio have learnt about managing first aid on the side lines. As we move into our winter sport season, I thought I'd share some tips we have collected, and answer some of the questions we get asked frequently in our practice. Remember, this is general advice only, and if you are in doubt, refer to the trained professionals that will hopefully be available somewhere at the venue.

This is also not meant as a First Aid guide. If you are interested in more in depth knowledge, you may like to upgrade your skills with a First Aid course, or Sports Trainers Course. We can direct to the right courses if you are interested.

Do you leave a shoe on if someone has sprained an ankle?

For most ankle sprains, leaving a shoe on or off is not going to have any impact on the injury or it's healing. If there is an obvious derangement of the ankle (ie: you think the joint is dislocated or rearranged in some way) then it is a good idea to leave everything where it is, and call for a Health Professional or ambulance. Swelling is the body's first healing response, and lots of swelling just means lots of healing is happening. Removing the shoe can make it easier to apply ice, but ask the injured person to remove their own shoe rather than you pulling the shoe and potentially causing more pain!

Speaking of ice (nice segway!)...

When do you apply ice, how...and for how long?

Currently the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and the South Australian Sports Medicine Association (SAMSA) endorse 20 minutes of ice every 2 hours, with a cloth or fabric barrier to protect the skin.

BUT……..if you look at some recent research and questioning of traditions, it may be that we should be asking, “should we ice an injury at all??”. There is a move to replace RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) with MEAT (Movement Elevation Analgaesia Treatment). Until the research becomes clear, we at Barossa Physiotherapy suggest the first line of management be:

  • 7-10 mins of ice, each hour, providing it is giving some pain relief. (Apply through fabric/cloth).

  • Compression, with a strong bandage or tubigrip, again for comfort (it should feel better).

  • Elevation (this does not include having it up on a barstool at the bar!!)

  • Early, active movement.