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First Aid for Runners

5th March 2019

As the weather starts to become milder, many people decide it’s time to dust off their trainers and start to take up running. Those who already run may be training for an event such as the 10k and more experienced runners maybe ramping up their training, in preparation for the London Marathon on 28th April.

Whether you are a newbie to running or you find yourself never out of your running gear, it is essential to have a basic knowledge of First Aid so that if you find yourself having to deal with an accident or medical emergency, you know how to respond. This information can save lives! We’ve listed some common injuries and medical emergencies that runners may come across and advised on the best way to offer a First Aid response.

Sprains and Strains

These are the most common type of sporting injury, particularly if people haven’t taken the time to warm up before going running or have pushed themselves too far, too soon. Sprains and strains can be incredibly painful but can be treated using:

  1. Rest – rest the injured limb using a crutch, sling or splint.
  2. Ice –  place a cold compress on the injured area to prevent swelling. Do not place ice directly onto exposed skin!
  3. Compression – a bandage or sling can help to support the injured limb and reduce swelling.
  4. Elevation – raise the injured limb above the heart, again to reduce swelling.

It is advised that even minor sprains and strains are looked at by a doctor and it is best not to start running again until you have been medically advised that it is safe to do so.

Heat exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Running for even short periods in the hot summer sun, without a hat or access to water can put you at risk of developing heat exhaustion. Those who run long distances are even more at risk. Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of salt and water from the body, usually through excessive sweating or when the body produces more heat than it can cope with. Recognising the symptoms of heat exhaustion is essential as this can quickly develop into heat stroke, which is far more serious and can even be life-threatening!

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Headache
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Sweating with pale, clammy skin
  • Rapid pulse and shallow breathing
  • Loss of appetite and feeling sick.
  • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach

First Aid Treatment:

  • Take the casualty to a cool place. Get them to lie down with their legs raised.
  • Give them lots of water. A sports drink or oral rehydration solution will replace salts and fluid lost from sweating.
  • Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response.
  • Look for signs of heat stroke.
  • If they seem to be getting worse then place them into the recovery position and call 999.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Headache
  • Restlessness and confusion
  • Hot, flushed and dry skin
  • A fast deterioration in the level of response
  • A full and pounding pulse
  • A body temperature above 40C (104F)

First Aid Treatment:

  • Quickly take the casualty to a cool place and remove outer clothing.
  • Call 999 for an ambulance
  • Wrap them in a cold, wet sheet and keep pouring water over it until their temperature falls to at least 38C (100.4).
  • If you cannot find a sheet, fan them or sponge them down with cold water
  • Once their temperature has gone back to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry one
  • Monitor their temperature, breathing, pulse and level of response whilst you wait for help
  • If they start to get hot again, repeat steps above to lower their temperature.
  • If they start to lose responsiveness, open their airway, check breathing and prepare to administer CPR if they become unresponsive.

Diabetic Emergencies

Every year in the London Marathon or equivalent distance events, a number of people collapse in the final miles of the race or experience a diabetic emergency, caused by dehydration or dangerously low blood sugar levels,

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of this happening like drinking lots of fluids and sugary drinks or gels along the way.

Symptoms of a Diabetic Emergency

  • Hunger
  • Clammy skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Drowsiness or confusion
  • Weakness or feeling faint
  • Sudden loss of responsiveness

First Aid Treatment:

  • Get the casualty to sit down and give them something sweet to eat or a non-diet drink
  • If they start to lose responsiveness, open their airway, check breathing and prepare to administer CPR if they become unresponsive.

For more First Aid advice and information why not try one of our Trainingly First Aid Courses or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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