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Preventing Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries are one of the most common types of injuries we suffer and can sometimes turn into a nagging injury that lasts years. Overuse injuries are simply injuries caused by too much work or a rapid increase in work without enough recovery. These injuries can occur in bones, tendons, or ligaments causing pain and decreased performance until fully healed. Some familiar overuse injuries include shins splints, tennis elbow, swimmers/throwers shoulder, among others.

The first step in preventing overuse injuries is preparing your body properly. We can prepare ourselves to be resilient to injury by following proper training a sports protocol. We most often see injuries when we increase our movements too rapidly, creating too much stress for our bodies to recover from. We need to plan out our training in a way that allows us to gradually increase stress on our bodies. If we are throwers, we calculate how many throws to complete each week to work up to a higher volume. If we are runners, we increase our running time or distance by no more than 10% per week to allow our bodies to progress and recover. If we progress too quickly, we will fall behind in recovery, and be at a higher risk for injury.

Strength training is a valuable tool in preparing the body. Through strength training, we can train lagging muscles, increase strength and power, and bulletproof our tendons and ligaments which will all aid in keeping our risk of injury low. Strength training will allow our bodies to experience movements and tension that sports can’t replicate. Simply put, skipping out on strength training for an athlete is setting yourself up for failure. Train hard, stay injury free.

Recovery is the best thing we can do to stay injury free, and this includes sleep, nutrition, hydration and rest. Sleep should always be our top recovery method, while nutrition and hydration are a close second. Allowing the body at least 1 day off or 1-2 days at extremely low intensity will go a long way in keeping our bodies fresh and at peak performance throughout the week.

Unfortunately, though preventable, an overuse injury is likely to sneak up on you, and early recognition is key. The sooner you catch it, the easier it will be to dispose of your injury. Rest is the best treatment, so if it’s possible, time off from your sport or training should have you back to normal. Other treatments can include stretching, foam rolling, physical therapy, and compression treatments.

Chris Still

BS Exercise Science


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