Acute management of a contusion

One of the advantages of playing basketball two times per week with aging weekend warriors is that I’m never at a loss for blog material. Once again, I was a popular guy today. Let’s recap today’s injuries: right lateral ankle sprain, jammed fingers, kicked in the calve, and “tweaked” lower back.

Today I will quickly address the treatment of a calve or quadriceps contusion. “Terry” was beat badly on a drive to the basket by the guy he was supposed to be covering.  In the process of trying to foul him recover his defensive position, he was kicked in the calve.  As he came limping over to find me, I knew I was on the clock again.

Without getting too technical and boring, thigh (quadriceps) and calve contusions are very common in contact sports, with the thigh being the most commonly injured.  Immediately after the injury (or as soon as you can) take the precautions we all know about:

  • Rest or protect the injured site.  Code for STOP PLAYING!
  • Ice.  Now this is important, you want to ice the injured area while the muscle is under stretch.  For example, for the thigh contusion, you would bend the knee in the fully bent position. For the calve, you would want the ankle pulled up, placing a slight stretch on the calve muscle.  The reason you do this is to prevent the effected muscle from tightening up in the shortened position.  Icing frequency is the most important in the first 1-2 days, every 2-4 hours for about 20 minutes.
  • Compression.  A compression sleeve or wrap should be on the effected body part as much as possible when you are up and about and after you return to the sport.
  • Exercise.  When you know the extent of the injury (after 1-2 days) and how serious it is, you can begin first with isometric exercises and progress into higher level activities as your leg heals.

And finally, Terry, stay with your man so you don’t get kicked in the first place!