First Aid

Common First Aid for Sports: Types, Treatment & Prevention

Ricky Kambray
Ricky Kambray

Welcome to the exciting world of sports, where every game brings both victories and challenges. One crucial thing that always matters is quick and effective first aid. Athletes, whether playing casually or professionally, can get hurt, making “Common First Aid for Sports” something every sports lover should know about.

Let’s break it down: Basic first aid for sports involves injury prevention through proper conditioning, hydration, and assessing the sports environment. In case of injuries, it includes using the “RICE” method for sprains and strains, providing first aid for fractures and dislocations, and having a well-equipped sports first aid kit with essential supplies.

Here, we’ll look at what to do if someone gets injured and what items you should have in your sports first aid kit, along with safety tips to make sure athletes are in a secure environment.

Coach is administering first aid to a young girl with a leg injury in soccer.

What Supplies Do You Need for a Sports First Aid Kit?

You definitely need a sports first aid kit, and if you’re wondering what goes in it, here’s a list of important things in a first aid kit. Whether you buy a kit or make your own, these medical kit content lists are essential:

First Aid Kit Essential Items:

  • Emergency cards for each athlete are especially important if you’re coaching children. These cards should have emergency contacts and all the important medical details like conditions, medications, and allergies.
  • A CPR mask
  • Exam/surgical gloves
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable instant cold packs
  • Splints
  • Triangular bandages
  • Elastic bandages in different sizes
  • Don’t forget to have an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) with your first aid kit for quick access.

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Wound Care Items:

  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Roll gauze
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antiseptic solution
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Wound pads
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Cotton swabs (Q-tips)

Ointments and Solutions:

  • Hand sanitiser
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sterile eyewash

Instruments & Tools:

  • Bandage scissors
  • Hand mirror
  • Tweezers
  • Tape, under wrap tape, and tape adherent


  • Sunscreen
  • Resealable bags
  • Contact lens case

Sportswoman feeling pain and holding her injured knee while sitting on the floor at home.

Common First Aid for Sports: Types & Treatments

Knowing how to treat different types of injuries in sports is crucial. Professionals trained in sports first aid often handle the following conditions:


The most common sports injuries are called sprains. A sprain happens when the tough tissue connecting bones at a joint gets stretched or torn. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the joint. Ankle sprains are the most common. They can take days or even months to heal, depending on how bad they are. If you get a sprain while playing, stop and get treated. Remember “RICE” when treating a sprain:

  • REST: Let the injury rest until it doesn’t hurt.
  • ICE: Put ice on the injury for up to 20 minutes, 4-8 times a day.
  • COMPRESSION: Use an elastic bandage to support the injury while it heals.
  • ELEVATION: Raise the injured limb above heart level to reduce swelling.


After sprains, the second most common sports injury is called a strain. A strain happens when a muscle or the tissue connecting muscles to bones gets twisted, pulled, or torn. It usually comes from doing too much or not being flexible enough. The hamstrings and quadriceps are commonly strained. Athletes can reduce the risk of strains by stretching, warming up properly, and improving flexibility. Just like with sprains, strains can be treated with “RICE.”


Fractures are breaks in the bone, usually caused by a hit or fall. They can be hairline fractures, thin and not going all the way through the bone, or compound fractures, where the broken bones stick out through the skin. Runners, mostly, can also get stress fractures from overuse. If you think an athlete has a broken bone, do this for first aid:

  • Stop any bleeding. Elevate the wound and press on it with a clean cloth.
  • Keep the injured area still. If it’s the neck or back, convince them to stay as still as possible. If it’s a limb, use a splint or sling to keep it in place.
  • Put something cold in the area. Wrapped in a cloth, apply an ice pack for sports injury for about 10 minutes at a time.
  • Also, treat them for shock. Make them comfortable, reassure them, and check they’re not too hot or too cold.
  • Get professional help if you can. Call 999 or take them to the emergency department for proper care.

If they’re unresponsive, unconscious, or not breathing, do CPR until help arrives.

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Female tennis player with a leg injury receiving care from a male coach on the tennis court.


If a lot of force is put on a ligament, it can make two bones separate, and that’s called a dislocation. When a bone is pushed out of its normal place, it’s dislocated. In adults, the most common spot is the shoulder, and in children, it’s usually the elbow.

When an athlete dislocates a joint, they need to get medical help right away. Just like with a fracture, the joint should be kept still with a splint or sling if needed. Don’t try to put the joint back in place yourself. It could hurt the nearby ligaments, muscles, or blood vessels. Instead, use ice to reduce swelling while waiting for professional help.

Nose Bleeds

If your nose is bleeding, follow these steps:

  • Stop what you’re doing.
  • Sit with your head leaning forward.
  • Then, pinch your nostrils together and breathe through your mouth.
  • Hold your nose like this for at least 10 minutes.
  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 30 minutes, get medical advice.

Dislodged Teeth

If a tooth gets knocked out, you might save it with quick dental help. Rinse the tooth in water or milk, and go see your dentist right away.

Close-up of a woman with a severe knee injury

Knee Injuries

Playing sports can sometimes lead to various knee injuries, with acute ones often involving the meniscus, tendons, or ligaments. Symptoms may include hearing a pop or click, feeling pain, weakness, or a buckling sensation.

For these types of injuries, using cold and compression is common. The PRICE method is a straightforward approach for treating such injuries. PRICE stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Soft Tissue Injury

If there’s a soft tissue injury, here’s what you can do step by step:

  • Stop what you’re doing right away.
  • Use a compression bandage to wrap the injured part.
  • Put ice on the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes. Wait for it to warm up completely before using ice again to avoid frostbite
  • Raise the injured part to bring down swelling.
  • Visit a doctor to get a proper diagnosis if the injury seems serious.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that wrap around the upper arm bone. As people get older, the rotator cuff can wear down. However, a big tear in the rotator cuff, which can happen suddenly (like from a fall) or over time with constant use, weakens the attachment to the upper arm bone. This can cause intense pain, a snapping feeling, and immediate weakness in the arm.

If you think you have a rotator cuff injury, stop what you’re doing and rest your arm. Using your shoulder too much could make the injury worse. If the symptoms last more than a week, contact your healthcare provider for an evaluation and diagnosis.

Two young football players in uniforms lean over their teammate lying on the field with a hurt knee.

Cuts and Abrasions

When you fall while running, biking, or doing fitness activities, you can get cuts and abrasions. These injuries range from minor scrapes, blisters, and small punctures to more serious lacerations and life-threatening arterial wounds.

  • For scrapes, wash with soap and water; contaminated ones may need hospital treatment to remove embedded debris. After washing and bandaging, you can apply ice and pressure for bruising or swelling.
  • Deeper cuts may need medical attention. Immediate first aid includes applying direct pressure, elevating the wound, and using a pressure bandage. If you can’t control the bleeding, seek immediate medical care.

If someone nearby is injured, protect yourself from diseases by using personal protective equipment like latex or rubber gloves when controlling bleeding or handling soiled bandages or instruments.

Chronic Injuries

While the big, sudden injuries in sports are noticeable, most sports injuries happen slowly over time. Pain from using your body too much tends to start small and get worse if not treated early.

To treat overuse injuries, you need to rest and reduce how much, how often, and how long you exercise. Putting ice on the injury can also help with swelling and pain. For more serious overuse injuries, you might need physical therapy, over-the-counter medications, and complete rest.

When to Seek Medical Help?

If you see someone with:

  • Not Waking Up: If someone is not waking up and stays unconscious for a long time,
  • Neck or Back Hurts: If someone hurts their neck or back,
  • Broken Bones: If you think someone has broken bones,
  • Head or Face Hurts: If someone hurts their head or face,
  • Eye Hurts: If someone hurts their eye,
  • Stomach Hurts: If someone hurts their stomach,

Call an ambulance right away. It’s important to get them to the hospital quickly for the right help.

Doctor glues a tepee to an athlete at the hospital

Returning After an Injury

Once you’ve taken care of your injury, the next question is usually when you can get back to playing sports. The answer varies for each person and injury. Coming back too early can raise the chances of getting hurt again or having a long recovery. On the other hand, waiting too long can lead to a decrease in fitness. It’s wise to create a plan with your healthcare provider for a safe return to sports.

How to Prevent Sports Injuries?

To avoid getting hurt during sports, here are some things you can do:

  • Warm up properly by gently moving and stretching.
  • Wear the right shoes for your sport.
  • If needed, tape or strap joints that might be at risk.
  • Use safety gear like mouthguards, helmets, and pads.
  • Drink enough water before, during, and after the game.
  • Avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day (between 11 am and 3 pm).
  • Stay fit, especially during the off-season between playing times.
  • Train at the right speed and impact to match game situations.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard. Gradually increase training intensity.
  • After playing, cool down with gentle stretches.
  • Give yourself enough time to recover between sessions.
  • Get regular check-ups from a doctor.

How to Assemble Your Team’s First Aid Kit Items?

As per emergency first aid in sports, you should be able to put together a sports first aid kit. Whether you buy one or make it yourself, you need to follow some rules. First, know where everything is in this individual first aid kit. Stay organised so you don’t waste time during emergencies. Keep delicate items in a strong container, and make sure the kit is waterproof. Second, keep track of what’s in the kit and replace things when needed. Lastly, make sure you and anyone using it know where the kit is all the time.

Wrapping Up

Understanding and applying common first aid for sports is crucial for athletes. This comprehensive guide covers various injuries, from sprains and strains to fractures and dislocations. It emphasises the RICE method, immediate treatment suggestions, and preventive measures. If athletes understand and follow these first-aid ideas, they can get better and make sports safer and healthier.


1) What should be in a first aid kit for sports?

Sports first aid equipment/kit should include items like bandages, adhesive tape, cold packs, scissors, and antiseptic wipes for treating common sports injuries.

2) What is the common first aid for sports injuries?

Common first aid for sports injuries involves the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and immediate professional care if needed.

3) What is first aid for sport and exercise?

First aid for sport and exercise involves immediate response to injuries, applying the RICE method, and seeking professional care when necessary.

4) Why is First Aid Training important in sports settings?

First Aid Training is essential in sports settings to provide prompt and proper care for injuries, ensuring athlete well-being.

5) What is a paediatric children’s first aid kit?

A children’s first aid kit is a special medical kit with important supplies made for treating injuries and sickness in babies and kids. It has things like bandages for children, medicines for kids, and tools that are right for their age.

6) What is a paramedic kit?

A paramedic kit is a special bag or box with important supplies and tools that paramedics use to give emergency medical care. It has things like bandages, medications, and tools to help save lives in different situations.

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Ricky Kambray

Hey this is Ricky Kambray an award-winning first-aid trainer with over 20 years of healthcare and teaching expertise. Highly certified general nurse regularly appears in the press discussing accident prevention and first aid advice.