a female athlete exercising on the floor

How Do I Prevent Overuse Injuries?

Active people pick up unfortunate overuse injuries from time to time, mostly due to trying to take on too much physical activity at too fast a rate. Knowing that a steep increase in activity is potentially setting you up for an injury and a setback is useful in understanding how to pace yourself while keeping fit.

An overuse injury is any type of muscle or joint injury; tendinitis and stress fractures, for example, which are down to repetitive trauma. Overuse injuries tend to occur when someone takes on a new sport and their body just isn’t able to keep up with the fresh demands you are asking of it. Going overboard with the frequency is a sure-fire way to find yourself injured and not active at all, so take a look and find out what can cause an overuse injury and how you can increase your activity level as safely as possible.

What are the Common Overuse Injury Causes?

The root of an overuse injury characteristically comes from one of the following:

Poor Technique

Improper technique is a main cause of bringing on an overuse injury. If you aren’t correctly fitted on a road bike, or swing a golf club using erroneous techniques, for example, you might overload certain muscles and give yourself an overuse injury. 

Poor Training

Just like poor technique, errors in your training can come about when you take on too much too soon. Going too fast, and exercising for too long or having the volume at a hefty level can also strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury

How Do I Avoid an Overuse Injury?

The majority of overuse injuries are avoidable, so it’s worth taking on board these helpful pointers in order to avert an overuse injury:

Use correct equipment and techniques

Getting some help through a lesson, regardless of experience, is always an advisable route to go down in sport. Adopting proper technique is fundamental as a way of preventing overuse injuries. Furthermore, ensuring correct equipment is worn is also just as important. For example, there’s a perfectly good reason why shoes are made specifically for certain activities, so take advantage of the benefits they offer.

Learn to Pace Yourself

A prime example of learning to pace is by not trying to shove all your exercise into the two days off work (if you’re lucky enough to have them). Squashing physical activity for the entire week into two days can lead to an overuse injury.

In place of what we’ve just mentioned, target at least 30-minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Don’t have 30-mins spare in one block? That’s fine – break it down into three 10-minute sessions instead. It’s also advisable to warm up before physical activity and complete a cool down after too.

Increase Activity Levels Gradually

When the time comes to up the length of time or intensity of your exercise, make sure you do so steadily and in a gradual manner. For example, if you want to increase the amount of running you do – especially if you’re healing runner’s knee issues – you should not increase the load by any more than 10% each week until you reach your new goal.

Mix Things Up

Instead of being solely focused on one sport, try giving other complimentary sports a go. Using different muscle groups gives your body the chance to strengthen and not suffer overuse injuries as you’re not overloading certain areas. A good example is if you play golf, you can add cycling into your training as it’s low-impact, builds core strength, and also adds an element of strength training for the major muscle groups in your legs.

How Do I Recover from an Overuse Injury?

If, to your annoyance, you do pick up an overuse injury, get in touch with your doctor. Most likely, the first bit of advice they will provide is to recommend that you take a break from the activity that brought the injury on. It’s not always the end of the world, as you might well be able to do some alternative exercise that doesn’t stress the injured area.

Our cooling bandages can help to soothe pain from overuse injuries while reducing not only the swelling but your recovery time too. These should be applied for between 30-minutes and two-hours whilst resting for the best results.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve recently made changes in your workout technique, intensity, duration, frequency or types of exercises. Identifying the cause of your overuse injury will help you correct the problem and avoid repeating it.

Don’t think that an overuse injury is going to hold you back from being physically active. Use the advice from your doctor, or sports therapist as well as listening to what your own body is telling you as a way to ease yourself back in, and then pace yourself once you are comfortable. This will help to reduce the chances of a setback, meaning you can build on your level of activity.

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