What to Do When You Go Down
While running is considered to be a safe activity in comparison to other impact sports, there are times even the most seasoned athlete will take a tumble. Whether it be on a trail, a street, or even in your own home, a sudden injury can happen anywhere. If you’re out training and take a spill, chances are you need to do something immediately and try to get help. Here are some helpful tips on how to handle a tumble, twist, and even a bite.
Always Bring Your Phone
For most runners and walkers, this is an essential part of our training gear. Some people use it for music, others to track their distance, but everyone should use it as an emergency aid. If you get injured out on the street or trail and are unable to continue, a phone can be a lifesaver. In a time where we are stressing for people to not be so reliant on technology, a cell phone can be the difference between life and death in certain instances.
If you plan on being out on the street or trail for extended periods of time away from your home, car or civilization, pack a small first aid kit. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a Ziploc bag with the essentials – antiseptic wipes, band-aids, gauze, and duct tape. If you start bleeding, you’ll need something to make it stop until you can get medical attention.
Not the most pleasant thought, but if a runner or walker trips at a decent rate of speed there’s a good chance there could be some blood as a result. If you find yourself on the ground with a nice cut or scrape, make sure to flush it out with water first if possible. Use an antiseptic wipe to also clean the wound and cover with a band-aid if you have one. If you’re completely out of supplies, a sock can work to help put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. And if you really did a number on yourself and need stitches, get to a medical facility as soon as possible. You can always tell an experienced trail runner by the number of scars on their legs.
Twisting and Turning
All it takes is stepping the wrong way on any kind of surface to cause a sprain, strain or even a break. If this happens, get off the injured leg immediately and elevate it if you can. If there is swelling, apply ice if available and wrap with a bandage. If there is extreme swelling, you can’t put any pressure on it and it is in a deformed shape go to an emergency room immediately. Otherwise, follow the rules of RICE – rest, ice, elevation and compression. Regardless of the severity of the injury, NEVER try to continue through the pain. Trying to be tough will just extend your rehabilitation time.
Treating a Bite
Depending on where you live and train, you could be surrounded by some aggressive animals along your route. The most common type of animal injury is rattlesnake bites, frequently found on trails during the warmer months. If you are bit, it’s most important to stay calm as they are usually aren’t fatal for humans. Check the bite area to see if there are swelling and color change which is indicative of a poisonous snake. Don’t apply ice, attempt to suck out the venom, or apply a tourniquet as it could cut off the blood supply. Keep the bitten area still, remove any tight clothing and jewelry and go to a medical facility immediately.