Self-Care: The Athlete's Toolkit

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Image Credits: Gopher Sport 

“Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well; …and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man.” - James H. West

As the spring season approaches, warmer weather induces outdoor activities. For the orthopaedic field, sports related injuries are a significant contributor to the patient injuries that we assess. From strains to fractures to arthritis, the root causes of the majority of the cases received are linked to athletic activity. 

Depending on where you take your exercises, you may or may not have access to an athletic trainer, who can access you and treat you on the spot if you have an injury. Many individuals self train after a while, thinking that they know their bodies. Under those circumstances, it will be best to have a toolkit on hand, to treat any immediate ailments that may crop up, until you are able to access an orthopaedic surgeon for treatment. 

An athlete’s toolkit is a kit, much like your home medical kit, that you keep on hand on the periphery as you are exercising. Equipped with your critical medical supplies and auxiliary equipment, you can create for yourself a kit that can range in side from a small case the size of a cosmetics bag to one that is about the size of a backpack. The key is to have your kit be something that you will welcome in your routine, and will be easily accessible and light enough to be mobile.

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With the weather ranging from 15.3 C - 24 C in Sydney for instance, the weather is cool to warm. A light sweater is always recommended in the lower ranges, as cooler weather contributes to conditions that can weaken the immune system. Carry a light sports jacket that you can keep on hand to keep you covered as you work out, if you’ll be outdoors. 

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Image Credits: Newsroom| Baycare Clinic

The convenience of having your athlete’s tool kit will benefit you once the relevant moment arises. According to the Henry Ford Livewell program, the following is what an athletic trainer keeps in his sports bag. You can modify your personal list according to your activity. You will need: 

  1. Athletic tape (in several versions) : Athletic tape is a pressure sensitive tape that resembles surgical tape. It adheres itself to the skin, and is utilized to keep muscles and bones in a set position. Depending on your activity, taping can help to prevent injuries to critical areas such as ankle joints. 

  2.  Band-aids: In everyday living, it is not uncommon to receive a scrape. In physical activity, the odds of injury are significantly increased. If you’re out jogging for instance, you may be prone to cuts from anything from the bark of a tree, to a scrape against a concrete wall or even exercise equipment that may have sharp edges or screw exposed. If you’re cut in such a manner that you are bleeding, a band-aid is an ideal way to cover your wound. 

  3.  Bandages: For larger cuts and scrapes that standard band-aids will be able to cover. 

  4. Antiseptic wipes: Depending on where you are, you may not always have access to clean water. If you’re in a gym and get an injury, you’ll be fine with respect to accessing your restroom facilities and cleaning your wound there. If you decide to go hiking for instance and get cut against the bark of a tree, a moist towelette like an antiseptic wipe will help you to clean the wound, while soothing it with healing agents. 

  5. Wipes: Wipes are always advised for gym use. Since some pieces of equipment are shared by multiple individuals, it will be important to clean the equipment between uses. Well equipped gyms have wipes in stock in an open area. If you don’t see any, you can ensure you have your own, and wipe down your equipment prior to, and after use. You will minimize the occurrence of communicable diseases. Additionally wipes are great for outdoor usage to cleanse prior to eating, if you’re in a remote location. Antibacterial gel also works well. 

  6.  Antacids: These will settle stomach during those instances where you may have upset your stomach, or involved in physical activity that involves excessive motion that can induce dizziness and impact your stomach as a result. Keeping antacids on hand will help you to stabilize your stomach. Additionally, you can keep a can of a drink containing ginger to help you settle your stomach. The active ingredient in ginger is a natural antiseptic and antacid.

  7. Petroleum Jelly: To soothe your skin after irritation.  

  8. Scissors: To cut various items in your list such as your tape and bandages to size. 

  9. Specialized Tools : These vary according to your sport. If you’re a runner for instance, you may keep extra spikes in your bag, along with a screwdriver to affix them to your boots if you lose any. 

  10. EpiPen for treating allergic reactions, If you’re allergy prone, buy generic allergy tablets like Loratadine, and keep them on hand. If you’re prone to headaches, either keep tabs with two tablets of Advil/Tylenol or a full box of their generic equivalents of ibuprofen/acetaminophen. 

  11.  A resistance band for rehab and ankle taping

  12. Elastic wraps and extra padding for injuries.

It is better to be prepared! In some instances, you’ll find that having your safety kit will enable you walk with a sense of assurance as you progress through your workout. When you have a cushion, you act more confidently as an athlete, than in instances when you don’t. Take good precautions. Injuries often appear when you least expect them, so ensure that you are able to manage them when they do. There’s no such thing as a risk free life! Take good care of your health! 

 

Reference: 

  1. Inside An Athletic Trainer's Toolkit: https://www.henryford.com/blog/2018/10/inside-athletic-trainers-toolkit

  2. Tourism Australia: https://www.australia.com/en/facts-and-planning/weather-in-australia.html

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