People get hurt in paintball. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, and you just have to accept that there is always some risk when you go out and play any sport that involves lots of running around and quick movements. But on the other hand, a lot of the injuries I see other players getting can be avoided, often with some straightforward precautionary measures. So, here are a few of the most common injuries (aside from welts and scrapes) that I see happening in paintball, and what you can do to avoid them.
Most Common Paintball Injuries
One of the most common and painful injuries I’ve seen happen to people on the field is a sprained ankle. There are plenty of ways that you can stretch your ankle enough to sprain it, the most common being if you step into a hole or roll your foot unexpectedly. Typically, you’ll know right away if you’ve sprained your ankle because it will probably hurt quite a bit more than if you’d just stepped wrong and escaped injury. A sprained ankle can take you out of the action for weeks and represents one of the most severe injuries that you can get while playing paintball.
Avoiding a sprained ankle relies on having high-quality footwear when you go out and play. I almost always wear one of my strongly supportive hiking boots when I play paintball because I don’t mind the slight extra weight and enjoy their greater durability and foot protection. Investing in a pair of high-quality supportive socks can also help you avoid these types of injuries.
Infections can happen whenever you receive a scrape or welt that causes bleeding if you do not clean the wound immediately after receiving it. Allowing dirt and contaminants to stay inside an open wound can lead to your skin getting infected and potentially a host of other health problems related to the infection. I once got a nasty infection on my thumb that had to be painfully cut off because I decided to ignore it – since then I’ve always made sure to clean my wounds carefully and prevent them from worsening.
Stopping an infection relies on being able to clean off and then protect your wound. Ideally, you should use saline and rubbing alcohol to disinfect any welts and scrapes you get, but washing it off with whatever you have available and covering the injury with a bandage should help out a lot, too. Always have some small bandages and topical disinfectant available to stop a little scrape from becoming a big problem.
Heat exhaustion or, worse, heat stroke can creep up on you and cause some severe health problems if you aren’t careful. The most effective way to control your body temperature and avoid heat injuries is to drink water constantly and prevent dehydration. On particularly hot days, you should also take care to spend some time in the shade cooling off. Not only will this help you to avoid heat injury, but it should also increase your performance when playing paintball.
Other Muscle Strains and Sprains
Sprained ankles are the most common type of sprain that I’ve seen on the field, but occasionally someone gets a bit more creative with how they hurt themselves. Sprains and strains can happen to any muscle on your body, and while some are unavoidable (like the time I strained my Achilles tendon), others can be avoided by staying hydrated and stretching before you start running around. Find a quick warm-up stretch routine to go through for a few minutes before hitting the field, and you should avoid most of these sorts of injuries.
Injuries from Plants and Insects
Some plants and insects can cause rashes and irritation when they come in contact with your skin, sometimes causing an allergic reaction or otherwise leading to more severe injuries. The best way to avoid these problems is to wear long-sleeved pants and shirts whenever you go paintballing, on top of applying bug repellant if you’re going into the woods. Long sleeves also protect you against paintballs, so I tend to wear them even in the summer months.
Sometimes, accidents happen. None of these injuries can be avoided 100% of the time by taking precautionary measures, but with a bit of care and knowledge, you can dodge most of them before they take you off the field. One extra tip I’d like to recommend is to pick up a first aid kit in a local store (I got mine from a CVS) and keep it in your car or backpack in case an injury pops up. Being able to treat minor problems helps to keep you on the field longer and may build trust with anyone else that you help out. Just make sure that more serious injuries receive medical attention from a doctor if anything especially bad happens out there.