Strains and sprains come hand-in-hand with outdoor activity, unfortunately, and we've probably all experienced these at least once in our lives. If you're out skiing, bush walking, climbing, trail running, or just having a ball being active in the great outdoors only to have the fun caught short with a sprain or a strain, here's what you should do.
Our friends from St John Ambulance Australia Anthony and Martin point out that it's all in an acronym, RICER:
Rest - stop doing the activity that has caused the injury.
Ice - apply this to restrict blood flow. In a nutshell, the body tries to heal a strain or sprain by flooding the area with blood in an effort to send it as much oxygen as possible. But this swelling affect can itself cause further damage, hence why ice is applied. If ice is not available you can try cold water, but best it be free-flowing (for example, placing a sprained ankle in a bucket of water will be OK initially, but the body will actually warm the water the longer it stays in the bucket).
Compression - apply a compression bandage, which essentially could come from all number of material and clothing you may have on hand. This helps restrict the swelling. If ice or cold water are not an option, then it's the compression that could be your main defense to minimising the injury.
Elevation - again elevation is to restrict further swelling.
Refer - when possible, head to a GP for a firm diagnosis that the injury is indeed a sprain or strain and nothing more sinister.