What is an overuse injury?
Overuse injuries refer to injuries that are the result of repetitive micro-trauma to the tendons, bones and joints. Unlike acute injuries, such as hamstring strains, ankle sprains or fractures which result in instant pain, overuse injuries usually occur over time. This can make them difficult to diagnose and treat. Some examples of overuse injuries include tennis elbol. shin splints, stress fractures and bursitis.
Why do overuse injuries occur?
Training and exercise applies stress to the body. The body then adapts by remodling, a process where tissues are broken down during exercise and then thickened and strengthened during recovery. In overuse injuries there is not enough recovery time to allow the body to adapt and remodel. This results in microscopic injuries which then lead to inflammation in the respective tissue.
Poor load management is typically the primary cause of overuse injuries in sport. A rapid increase in training intensity/duration/frequency of activity, especially in those returning to a sport after a long break, can cause an overuse injury. Also, proper technique & footwear is important to avoid putting too much strain on areas.
Tips for avoiding overuse injuries
- Ensure adequate warm-up and cool-down including streching before and after activity.
- Adopt a good training schedule with adewuate rest days between hard workouts/games. It is important to allow your body enough time to recover.
- Incorpoate other methods of training to improve core strength and flexibility.
- Confirm you are using appropriate technique. Try asking your coach/trainer for help and advice.
- If you do feel sore after a game/session try icing to reduce inflammation.
- Always communicate regularly with your trainer/coach if you are developing regular pain after sport.
- Listen to your body, the term "no pain, no gain" does not apply with overuse injuries.