Skip to main content
Normal text size icon Increase text size by 30% icon
NGH Long NHS75 logo

Don't get sidelined by sprains and strains!

The squads are confirmed and the excitement is building for Euro 2016. So, it’s no surprise that the inner footballer in you is coming out! But make sure you take care on the football pitch or you could end up with injuries that leave you on the side-lines rather than the playing field.

With football being one of the most popular sports played by young athletes, it’s no surprise that it’s also the sport that can lead to more injuries than many other activities, including sprained ankles and muscle strains.

But what’s the best way to treat these types of injuries?
Most sprains and strains are relatively minor and can be treated at home with a self-care technique known as PRICE - which stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Firstly, you need to protect the affected area from further injury by using a support, resting and avoiding activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury. Use crutches or a walking stick to help if you can’t put weight on your ankle or knee.

Apply ice to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours during the day for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury. It’s best to wrap ice or a bag of peas in a damp towel but don’t leave the ice on while you sleep. Make sure the ice doesn’t touch your skin directly because it could cause a cold burn.

Using an elastic compression bandage during the day will limit the swelling. Keep the injured body part raised (elevated) above the level of the heart whenever possible. You can use a simple elastic bandage or tubular bandage available from your local pharmacy. It should be wrapped snuggly around the affected area but not so tightly that it restricts blood flow. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.

Painkillers such as paracetamol can be used to help ease any pain, although stronger medication can be prescribed if the pain is more severe. Aspirin should not be given to children under the age of 16 years of age.

What to do if you're still concerned
Depending on the type of injury you have, it can take a few weeks to a few months or more to make a full recovery. You shouldn't return to your previous level of activity until you have fully recovered, but you should aim to gently start moving the injured body part as soon as possible.

If symptoms do not improve or you’re concerned about your injury, call NHS111 who are available to give advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information about treating sprains and strains, visit

Posted on Monday 6th June 2016
Back to Top