Preparing for a competition in another country takes weeks in advance to properly adapt the body to new environmental conditions. There are a number of aspects to consider when travelling abroad such as the climate, elevation, pollution, accommodations, food, water, vaccinations, and emergency plans.
Travelling in another country entails eating a wide variety of exotic foods. Avoid risk of food contamination by avoiding tap water with ice, peeled fruits, shellfish, and buffet style meals. Bring a water filter or water purification tablets. It is recommended to eat foods that are similar to the foods you would eat at home. Scout potential restaurants nearby and determine what to items to pack if necessary.
Avoid high-fiber foods before competition and limit fat as well as protein intake prior to activity. Consume carbohydrates such as bread, rice, or pasta prior to competition. Eat a large meal at least 3 to 4 hours before the competition to allow for adequate digestion. A small snack will take approximately 1 hour to be properly digested.
Ensure the coaching staff, medical aids, and/or you yourself are familiar with the medical personnel at the facilities as well as the ambulance and emergency procedures. Apply for the appropriate travel insurance. Remember to pack any required medications and a small first-aid kit. For any acute sprains, immediately rest, apply ice, compress, and elevate the injured part. This is known as the R.I.C.E. method.
For colder environments, wear layers of clothing with the innermost layer being made out of lightweight polyester or polypropylene, the middle layer made out of polyester fleece or wool, and the outer layer as protection from the wind or rain. Use clothing vents and adjust insulation to reduce sweat accumulation. Only wear the outer layer if it is windy or rainy.
For warmer environments, wear breathable, lightweight materials and protect yourself from the sun with proper coverage by wearing a hat, sunglasses, long sleeves or a thin jacket. Bring sunscreen and proper footwear.
Finger sprains commonly occur in sports and every day activities that involve heavy lifting or repetitive hand motions. Falls or contact sports such as football may even force a finger out of its normal joint position resulting in a dislocation. The force to the finger may cause joints in the finger to hyperextend or move sideways. Sprains of the finger are classified according to the extent of injury or damage.
1) Grade I – Mild: A first degree sprained finger is present when the ligaments are only stretched but not ruptured. There may be localized swelling, slight pain, and slight reduction in range of motion, but strength remains unaffected. An individual may continue to engage in an activity. Taping of the injured finger may be more effective. Recovery is immediate.
2) Grade II – Moderate: A second degree sprained finger occurs when there is partial ligament tears, a greater reduction in range of motion and some loss of strength with more swelling and pain. The joint capsule may also be damaged. Recovery will take longer.
3) Grade III – Severe: A third degree sprained finger involves complete rupture of the ligament, complete loss of range of motion and typically dislocation of the finger. Significant pain and swelling is present. X-ray is required for diagnosis and surgery may be indicated.
In the first 48 to 72 hours after the sprain, the individual should protect the finger by taping it to the adjacent finger or by using a finger brace. Apply ice for about 15 min every two hours with a small ice pack wrapped in a dry towel or use a large cup filled with cold water and some ice for immersion.
Once swelling has gone down, the individual may begin light range of motion exercises by placing a soft object such as a tennis ball or rolled sock in the palm of the hand and gently squeezing the object. Repeat 10 times and stop if any pain arises. Surgery may be indicated for third degree sprains. Consult a physician for the appropriate diagnosis.
1) Ball Grip: Hold a ball in the palm of the hand with all fingers enclosing the ball and gently squeeze. Hold, then relax.
2) Pinch: Place a ball between the thumb and index finger. Gently squeeze, then relax.
3) Opposition: Hold a ball with the thumb and pinky finger. Gently squeeze the ball using the two fingers, then relax.
4) Side-Squeeze: Place a ball between any two fingers and gently squeeze, then relax.
Acute sprains and strains may impede performance and delay return to a sport. Proper management, treatment, and prevention is essential to recovering effectively. An athlete must first understand the definition and recognize the differences between a “sprain” and a “strain.” A sprain is defined as a violent overstretching of one or more ligaments in a joint. A sprain can result in pain, tenderness, swelling or bruising at the joint. A strain is defined as a stress or direct injury to the muscle or tendon. A strain may also cause pain when moving or stretching the injured muscle, but can also cause muscle spasms.
1) Grade I – Mild Strain: slightly pulled muscle with no muscle or tendon tears and no loss of strength and low levels of pain
2) Grade II – Moderate Strain: partial tearing of the muscle or tendon at the bone attachment with reduced strength, moderate pain levels
3) Grade III – Severe Strain: complete rupture of muscle-tendon-bone attachment with separation, substantial loss in strength and high levels of pain
1) Grade I – Mild Sprain: minor tearing of some ligament, no loss of function
2) Grade II – Moderate Sprain: partial rupture of portion of ligament, moderate loss of function
3) Grade III – Severe Sprain: complete rupture of ligament or separation of ligament from bone, substantial loss of function
2) ICE: Sudden cold may help constrict capillaries and blood vessels to slow or restrict internal bleeding. Place an ice pack between a towel or dry cloth. Apply ice every hour for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
3) COMPRESS: Compression can help reduce swelling post-injury. Wrap the injured part firmly with an elasticized bandage, compression sleeve, or a cloth. Do NOT wrap the cloth too tightly as it may cut off blood circulation and lead to more swelling.
4) ELEVATE: Elevate the injured part about level of the heart to reduce swelling and pain. Place a soft object such as a pillow or piece of clothing to use as a prop below the body part.
Continue to follow the above RICE method for two to three days post-injury. Daily stretching may help loosen the muscle. Key to prevention is to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak muscles.
Watch the videos below on how to recover from a common ankle sprain or shoulder strain: