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Inspired by a summer of sport? Know what to do with sprains and strains

23 June 2016


With the excitement of the Euros and other sports fixtures such as Wimbledon and the Olympics coming up, you may have been inspired to take up a new sport or leisure activity.  Doctors at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are warning people to take a few simple steps to avoid a sprain or strain.

We all know that exercise has many health benefits.  It can help you live longer1 and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50%.  But if you haven’t exercised in a while you should take things gently to start with.  Most sports injuries happen when you do too much too quickly, are not properly prepared or use poor techniques.

So how do you avoid injury and still get the daily exercise you need to lead a healthy lifestyle?  Here are a few simple things that can help.

Dr Chris Marshall, a Bedfordshire GP said:  “When you start a new sport or exercise for the first time your muscles aren’t used to the physical stresses involved which can lead to sprains and strains.  So, make sure you start slowly and gradually build up your activity over time.

“It helps to wear footwear that supports and protects your feet and ankles and is appropriate for the type of activity you're doing.  Always make sure your footwear is in good condition and avoid running or walking on uneven surfaces if possible. 

“Signs of a sprain or strain can include pain, swelling, bruising and tenderness around a joint or in a muscle. You may also find it difficult to move the affected body part.”

Most sprains and strains are relatively minor and can be treated at home with self-care techniques, such as paracetamol or PRICE therapy which stands for: Protection; Rest; Ice; Compression; Elevation.

The principles of P.R.I.C.E. should be used for the first 48 – 72 hours. Your local pharmacy can advise on over the counter medicines which are usually cheaper than a prescription from your GP.

If you feel that symptoms are worse and haven’t improved after a few days of self-care, visit your local walk-in centre or call your GP. 

Remember that soft tissue injuries can take up to four weeks to heal so it’s important to be patient. Alternatively, call NHS111 - available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  They can offer advice about what to do or where to go.  All you have to do is dial 111 to talk to the NHS.

For more information about treating sports injuries, visit www.nhs.uk 

Notes to editors

For further information, please e-mail communications@bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk




Note to editors


Visit www.nhs.uk to find your nearest GP, walk-in centre or pharmacy, or get health information.

1Figures sourced from: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/Whybeactive.aspx


·         Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the 441,000 people who live in Bedfordshire. This includes hospital, community health and mental health services.

·         BCCG is run by GPs, nurses, hospital doctors and other clinicians – the people you see whenever you come into contact with the NHS. All 55 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members of the CCG which is divided into five areas, which we call localities. These are: Bedford, Chiltern Vale, Leighton Buzzard, Ivel Valley and West Mid Bedfordshire and all of the 55 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members.



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