Skip to Content

Booking expires: 11min 36sec

The football season has finally started. Whether you are into AFL, Union or NRL, our weekends are often scheduled around sports, and as you know these sports involve high levels of physical contact. With our love of playing football comes an increase in sports injuries.


Queenslanders who compete on a recreational basis on weekends are more likely to be injured compared to those who compete professionally, and injuries are more likely to occur at the start of the season.1*




The most common injuries are muscle strains and sprains. Over 40% of injuries are muscular strains or contusions (bruising); 30% are sprains. Sprained ankles are a common injury representing 10–15% of injuries.2*


Whether you or a family member plays football, it is always good to know how to treat muscle sprains and strains—you don't want to be sidelined with an injury. In this article we explain the difference between a sprain and strain, and how to manage those injuries.


What is a sprain?

A sprain occurs when the ligament holding joints together is stretched and torn. This happens when a joint is forced to move beyond its normal range. The more severe the injury, the more ligaments will be torn.

Pain from a sprain may be intense and the patient’s ability to move the joint is restricted. There is swelling around the joint, and bruising develops quickly.


What is a strain?

A strain occurs when the fibres of the muscle or tendon are stretched and torn. This usually happens as a result of lifting something too heavy, working a muscle too hard or making a sudden, uncoordinated movement. Common examples are the groin and hamstring strains of footballers.  The patient will feel sharp, sudden pain in the region of the injury and on any attempt to stretch the muscle. There is usually a loss of power in the affected limb and the muscle is tender.


Management of sprains and strains

1. Follow DRSABCD.

2. Follow R.I.C.E. Rice stands for Rest, Icepack, Compression and Elevate.

  • Rest the patient and the injured part of the body.
  • Apply an Icepack (cold compress)  wrapped in a wet cloth for 15 minutes every 2 hours for 24 hours, then for 15 minutes every 4 hours for the next 24 hours.
  • Apply a Compression bandage firmly, extending well beyond the injury
  • Elevate the injured part.

3. Seek medical aid.


Tip: If in doubt about the nature of the injury, always treat as a fracture (broken bone).


It is estimate that 30% of sport injuries can be prevented.3* Knowing how to prevent these injuries is just as important as treating them.


This footy season be sure to:

  • train and prepare for the sport you’re playing
  • warm-up before and cool-down after activities
  • use protective equipment
  • wear appropriate footwear
  • ensure sporting facilities (ground surfaces) are of a good standard.


You can learn more about first aid treatment by completing St John First Aid training. Book a nationally recognised first aid training course today. If you book before midnight Sunday March 19 you can save 50% on selected courses.


The content of this article is offered as general advice and is not a replacement for a first aid training course or medical advice. If you have any concerns about a medical condition, see a health professional.



  1. Australian First Aid 2014. 4 ed. p. 284. St John Ambulance Australia, Canberra.
  2. Accessed March 2017                                                    
  3. Australian First Aid 2014. 4 ed. p.287 . St John Ambulance Australia, Canberra.
Adding... Added!