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Dealing with Acute Injuries

Acute musculoskeletal injuries can often occur unexpectedly and can be debilitating. They often leave us unable to fully participate in exercise and can be very disruptive to everyday life. By managing acute injuries correctly and efficiently, we can optimise our recovery and minimise the amount of time away from exercise.

We can follow the principles of POLICE to our injuries to aid recovery. It is always best to discuss your POLICE strategy through with an LBSM doctor as this may differ depending on your injury.

P – Protect


To protect your injury from further damage and prevent poor healing.


There are different ways of providing protection for an injured body part.

Create a physical barrier between our body and the environmentPlaster of Paris, Boot, Splint, Bandage
Immobilise the injured area and reduce any motion going through itPlaster of Paris, Boot, Splint, Brace, Sling, Collar
Reduce the amount of force through the injured tissue (lower limbs)Crutches, Braces, Boot


We want to protect the injured limb all throughout the recovery process. But we also do not want to overprotect the area and underuse it (by excessive immobilisation).
Overprotection can itself lead to stiffness, swelling and ongoing pain. It is important to get the balance correct between protection and usage.

OL – Optimal Loading


To encourage reactivation and healing of injured tissue and surrounding muscles through appropriate loading and exercise


The type of loading that is optimal will be very dependent on the type of injury and the stage of healing. As a rule of thumb, loading will increase in force and intensity as the injured tissue recovers. The adjuncts described in PROTECT may also be used to aid optimal loading. A typical loading programme may look like:

NB Timings are a rough guide will vary on the severity and type of injury
Acute (1 week)Non-weight bearing exercises (land-based or aqua therapy)
Sub-acute (1-2 weeks)Partial weight bearing exercise using offloading aids (aqua therapy, anti-gravity treadmill, TRX, bands)
Medium-term (2-6 weeks)Low-impact exercise (please see LBSM Low Impact training guide for more details)
Long-term (>6 weeks)Impact training and return to sport (please see LBSM Return to Sport guide for more details)


We want to optimally load our injured body part all throughout the rehabilitation cycle. This is especially important once healing is complete to ensure we do not risk reinjuring ourselves.

I – Ice


To reduce inflammation and swelling in and around the injured area to aid recovery.


Placing a cold compress such as a bag of ice or frozen peas wrapped in a towel onto the injured and inflamed area. Do this for around 15-20 minutes every couple of hours if possible.


Icing is most useful in the acute and sub-acute injury phases. If there is persistent swelling at the site of injury, icing will continue to be useful. Depending on the injury, this may last many days or weeks.

C – Compression


To reduce inflammation and swelling in and around the injured area to aid recovery.


There are different tools available to help compress an injury. This include:

  • Compression bandage (e.g. tubigrip, stockings, sleeves)
  • Compression devices and recovery pumps (e.g. Game Ready provides compression and icing combined)Soft tissue massage


Compression is most useful in the acute and subacute injury phases. If there is persistent swelling at the site of injury, compression will continue to be useful. Depending on the injury, this may last many days or weeks.

E – Elevate


To reduce inflammation and swelling in and around the injured area to aid recovery.


Elevate your injury above the level of your heart. If possible, try to maintain this elevated position while you sleep. Different elevation aids include:

  • Slings (for upper limb injuries)
  • Pillows and cushions
  • Foot stool


Elevation is most useful in the acute and subacute injury phases. If there is persistent swelling at the site of injury, elevation will continue to be useful. Depending on the injury, this may last many days or weeks.

infographic police

If you are suffering with an injury, it is always best to talk this through with the LBSM team. Please contact the LBSM team if you need any further help.

Wishing you all the best for your health and fitness.

The LBSM team.

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    Orla Mulligan
    Administration and Social Media Manager
    Administration, LBSM

    Orla Mulligan is the administration and social media manager for LBSM. She has a strong background in sport having herself played netball at an elite standard for the U21s Northern Ireland team in the European Championships as well as the U21s competition for Saracen Mavericks.

    She understands youth sport pathways having herself played and training in the netball Kent regional pathway. She has a keen interest in most sports and a good understanding of how injury and illness can impact on the mind and body, as well as rehabilitation pathways.

    She looks forward to speaking and assisting LBSM patients and gives her best support to them during their treatment pathway.

    A day in the life of Orla involves communicating with patients via phone and email, managing and organising clinics, operations and media management.

    Outside of work, Orla is a gym enthusiast, enjoys tennis and still finds the time for an occasional game of netball.

    Maddie Tait
    BSc, MSc
    Associate, LBSM
    Musculoskeletal and Sports Podiatrist

    Maddie treats and manages complex foot and ankle injuries in London and Surrey.

    She is particularly interested in helping her patients improve their quality of life and achieve their personal goals, working closely with Foot and Ankle Consultants, Sports Medicine Doctors and Physiotherapists.

    Maddie has a sporting background herself having previously represented England in Hockey. She understands the demands of elite sport and the importance of physical and mental health. In her spare time, Maddie continues to enjoy an active lifestyle by running, cycling and attending a Pilates class.

    Having graduated from University of Brighton with a MSc (hons) in Podiatry, Maddie focused her career in Podiatric Sports Injuries and Biomechanics. Previously she completed a BSc (hons) in Sport Science at Loughborough University.

    A day in the life of Maddie involves consulting patients in clinic, performing gait and biomechanical assessments, measuring and fitting orthotics and braces. She also regularly teaches and presents at sports medicine and podiatry conferences.

    Outside of work, Maddie still finds time to play hockey and enjoys running and skiing.

    Mr Prakash Saha
    Consultant Partner, LBSM
    Consultant in Vascular Surgery

    Mr Prakash Saha is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at LBSM. He takes pride in providing the best possible results for his patients by using the most appropriate non-surgical and surgical methods based on clinical evidence, patient results and satisfaction.

    He treats fit and active people suffering with a range of cardiovascular issues, from painful leg swelling associated with exercise to venous insufficiency, post-thrombotic syndrome and leg ulcers. He also treats people with arterial system problems including poor circulation, compression syndromes and aneurysms. He carries out both endovascular and open aortic repair and has some of the best outcomes in the country.

    Mr Saha studied medicine at the United Medical & Dental Schools at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals before completing his higher surgical training in London and the South East. During this time, he was awarded the prestigious NIHR Clinical Lectureship in Vascular Surgery at St. Thomas’ Hospital, giving him comprehensive training in open and endovascular techniques for treating arterial and venous disease. Prakash completed his aortic surgery training at the St. George’s Vascular Institute before carrying out a specialist fellowship at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney.

    Mr Saha regularly lectures and runs workshops across the globe on the latest surgical techniques to treat vascular disease. He has also been awarded a number of research grants from the Royal College of Surgeons, the Circulation Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the British Heart Foundation, which has led to over 80 publications and the development of innovative technologies to help treat patients. For this work, Prakash has received a number of prizes, including the Venous Forum prize from the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland, an International Young Investigator Award, and an Early Career Investigator Award from the American Heart Association.

    A day in the life of Mr Saha involves seeing patients in clinic, operating in surgical theatre or lecturing at his university. He also regularly teaches and presents at vascular and sports medicine conferences.

    Mr Saha is an avid cyclist and tennis player (although yet to get a set of Dr Seth!). Outside of work, he spends time with his family who consists of 3 children and enjoys travelling.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran
    Consultant Partner, LBSM
    Consultant in Sports and Musculoskeletal Radiology

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran is a Consultant Musculoskeletal Radiologist at LBSM, with an extensive background of working in elite sport. He is one of the most recognised radiologists in the sports medicine field. He provides top level imaging and medical diagnostic services for patients and athletes.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran completed his undergraduate medical training at Imperial College London and his radiology training at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. He has obtained two post-CCT fellowships in musculoskeletal imaging. He was appointed as a consultant at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in 2011.

    He has a passion for all sports having worked as a radiologist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and London World Athletic Championships and continues to support The Championships, Wimbledon. He also continues to work with a number of Premier League and Championship Football Clubs, Premier League Rugby Clubs, England Sevens Rugby, British Athletics and the Lawn Tennis Association.

    A day in the life of Dr Rajeswaran involves giving his expert opinion on investigations such as MRI and CT scans, x-rays and ultrasound. He also performs injection lists under ultrasound, CT and X-ray including spinal injections. He also regularly teaches and presents at sports medicine conferences.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran is an avid football fan and life-long fan of Tottenham Hotspur (for which he offers no apologies!). Outside of work, he spends time with his family and has a keen passion for photography.

    Dr Ajai Seth
    Medical Director, LBSM
    Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine

    Dr Ajai Seth is a Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician. He has dedicated his career to helping people with sport and exercise related injury and illness. He consults and treats everyone from the elite athlete to the weekend warrior.

    Dr Ajai Seth is part of the British Tennis Sports Physician team at the LTA and has also provided cover to elite athletes at Wimbledon Tennis, European Tour Golf, Premier League Football, British Athletics, and the Men’s England Football academies as part of the FA.

    He also prides himself for working in disability sport and is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Team GB Wheelchair Tennis which has taken him to the Olympics and Paralympics.

    Dr Ajai Seth is dedicated to education, training and research and is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Medicine at King’s College London where he lectures in all aspects of Sports Medicine and Science.

    He also has a passion for travel and Expedition Medicine, which has seen him accompany medical, scientific and charity expeditions all around the world. He also has vast experience in treating musculoskeletal injuries from children and adolescents to veteran exercisers, both male and female.

    Dr Seth also has positions in leading Sport Medicine organisations, including the non-executive board for the UK’s largest Sports Medicine charity, BASEM and Past President for the Royal Society of Medicine. 

    A day in the working life of Dr Seth involves consulting his patients in clinic, performing diagnostics and ultrasound guided injections. He also regularly lectures and tutors students and presents at sports medicine conferences internationally. He also spends part of the working week at the National Tennis Centre, LTA, supporting British Tennis players.

    Outside of work, Dr Seth enjoys playing club tennis, triathlon, golf, running and skiing (but will give any sport a go!). He enjoys keeping fit and active and good quality family time with his wife and three children.