I had a skating coach who would tell us to put pressure on a spot that we had just fallen on: fall on your knee, put pressure on your knee. Despite the fact that I now question everything I have actually given this advice to many skaters myself without knowing whether there is actually any justification for it. I finally looked it up.
Bruising occurs when some of the blood vessels break and blood leaks into an area that it shouldn’t really be in. It changes colour as the blood is cut off from oxygen, begins to break down, and is reabsorbed by the body. Most often we get bruises from an impact like running into the edge of your desk. But using can also occur after surgery which cuts the blood vessels, or in connection with some medical conditions.
Well there isn’t much that can be done to stop the bruise that you didn’t realize you got, there are some strategies you can use to minimize bruising when you know you did something dumb and applying pressure is one of those things.
Ice – cooling the area with ice will restrict blood flow and thereby reduce the size of the bruise. I also helps to reduce inflammation in the area.
Elevate – raising the injured area so that it is above your heart will reduce blood flow as well as help with swelling.
Pressure – applying direct pressure to the area will also reduce bleeding. My personal experience is that while the pressure hurts initially it actually helps to make it feel better as well.
Rest – resting the area can also help reduce the size of the bruise. So much for “skate it off”.
Lastly, some medications like aspirin that reduce the number of platelets (part of your blood that is responsible for clotting) will increase the likelihood of developing a bruise because you are more likely to bleed for longer due to the reduced ability to clot.
As this came up last night when I was providing advice about minimizing bruising to an athlete I thought it might be worth mentioning: don’t put a frozen steak on a bruise. While this treatment is often seen on TV and in movies and was once popular it is not best practice today. It is possible that bacteria or other organisms in the raw meat could get into an open sore and cause infection. A bag of frozen peas don’t have the same risk and they mould nicely to the area.