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Knee injury during sports

What supplies do you need for a sports first aid kit?

Sport often tests the limits of our physical abilities, sometimes resulting in injury, so a dedicated first aid kit can really come in handy for quick, effective relief. But deciding on the contents can be challenging, given that they are often dictated by the sport in question.

"A basic first aid kit for sport - and general use - should always contain the essentials to treat the most common injuries and illnesses," says Robert Brown, sports physiotherapist at The Centre for Health and Human Performance. "Once you have these, the kit can then be tailored to the specific needs of the sport you are playing."

Here are the essential first aid items you need in your sports kit.

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The basics

No matter what sport you're playing, it's always handy to carry a foam roller for aching muscles, athletic tape for minor sprains, and blister plasters. Pack some paracetamol, which can soothe the immediate pain of sports injuries, while ibuprofen can reduce any swelling associated with a sprain, for example.

It's also useful to have general first aid equipment, such as sterile wipes for wound cleaning, a tube of antiseptic cream to help prevent infection, adhesive and non-adhesive bandages, plasters, ice packs and a first aid manual. You should also include a blanket for keeping patients warm - this is especially important if they're in shock after an injury.

You won't need a full first aid kit if you're just going for a quick jog round the park, but it's always useful to take supplies for cuts and scrapes - a few antiseptic wipes, microporous tape to use in place of a plaster or band aid, and a small bandage. You should also take a credit card and/or cash in case you get hurt and need to take public transport home.

For team sports

Injuries like bruises, grazes and sprained ankles are more common in team sports, especially in football and hockey where there's a high chance of impact. So your first aid kit will need to contain ice packs, elastic bandages and wound dressings, as well as blunt-ended scissors to cut bandages, safety pins to secure them, and microporous tape to seal dressings over a wound, or to place over minor cuts and grazes. A blast of aerosol cold spray can provide cooling relief for muscle aches and sprains. Team first aid kits are a great resource that can be shared amongst players, ensuring aid supplies are available at every game and distributing the cost of gathering supplies.

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For racket sports

Blister plasters are a must - blisters on the feet occur in most sports, but they're particularly common in games like tennis thanks to the frequent back and forth, and side-to-side movements, that cause a lot of friction. An anti-friction balm would also be useful to prevent shoes rubbing. An ankle brace might be good idea too, as sprained ankles are particularly common in very physical racket sports such as tennis and squash.

For track and field sports

For track and field sports like cross country running, hurdling and high jump, you will need supplies to treat blisters, strained muscles and sprains. These include a triangular bandage sling, hot and cold packs, and blister plasters. Cold packs are good for immediate use on sprains, while heat packs can be used on aching muscles.

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Think about the climate

If you're playing outdoors, your kit should include sun cream to prevent sunburn, as well as protecting any existing burns. In case of bee or wasp stings, pack an allergy kit including oral antihistamine tablets and a topical hydrocortisone cream. If the pollen count is high, you could also include antihistamine eye drops to soothe any irritation associated with hay fever.

If you're in a fix

The rumours are true - thanks to their absorbency, sanitary products really are effective first aid tools! Try using a sanitary towel as a makeshift bandage, or a small tampon can be inserted into the nostril for a nosebleed; it applies pressure and absorbs blood.

A T-shirt - or most other items of clothing - can also be used to apply pressure to a wound if needed. If it's long enough, an item of clothing can also be used as a temporary sling to support a suspected shoulder or arm fracture until you receive treatment from care professionals.

Article history

The information on this page is peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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