Friday, December 14, 2018

Avoid Overuse Injuries

Weekend warriors and professional athletes alike, anyone who is physically active is prone to overuse injury. These types of injuries are caused by repeated stress on tendons, bones, and joints. They are often named for their location on the body or by the activity that causes them.  Some examples include:
  • Plantar fasciitis – pain under the heel
  • Achilles tendinitis – ankle pain from running or jumping
  • Shin splints – leg pain from running
  • Stress fracture – pain in the foot or lower leg that worsens with weight bearing
  • Runner’s knee – pain around or under the kneecap from running or jumping
  • Swimmer’s shoulder – pain with overhead arm extension
  • Tennis or golfer’s elbow – pain on outside (tennis) or inside (golfer’s) of elbow
Overuse injuries are usually caused by what is known as the “terrible too’s.” That means trying to do too much physical activity, too hard or too soon after previous activity or injury. Poor technique, inadequate equipment, and even lack of proper rest can also lead to overuse injuries. Don’t ignore pain. Sudden pain (a twisted ankle or torn ligament) is obvious and demands immediate attention. The slow development of overuse injury pain is an important message as well, if less insistent. It’s often a signal that you are moving toward an injury.

Here are some steps to take to avoid overuse injuries:
  • Learn the correct techniques for using new equipment or taking on a new sport from a trainer or coach.
  • Get the right equipment and shoes for your chosen sport. Be sure to use a heel cushion or orthotic insert in running shoes. Replace athletic shoes when they become worn.
  • Warm up by exercising at low intensity for 5 minutes at the start of your activity. Then do slow stretches, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. When you finish your activity, cool down for 5 minutes at low intensity, then do some final stretches.
  • Use the ten percent rule to gradually increase your workouts. Increase the time or distance of your workout by no more than 10 percent each week.
  • Work your muscles evenly, strengthening on both sides to avoid imbalance.
  • Rest when fatigued, because your body needs time to recover and heal from strenuous activity. Include slow and rest days in your exercise schedule.
  • Cross-train with a variety of activities, alternating aerobic exercise and strength training. Varying activities give your muscles and joints time to rest.
Paying attention to these simple strategies will help you avoid overuse injuries. After all, it’s better to take a day off and rest once in a while than to be sidelined for weeks with tendinitis or other painful condition.

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