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How to prevent overuse injuries

How to prevent overuse injuries

Sudden affinity for recreational sports or over enthusiastic gym sessions can work against you, if you do not listen to your body. Over-stressing your ligaments, tendon, muscles and bones can lead to micro-trauma which will gradually develop into overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are treated with various procedures such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medication and, in severe cases, surgery. These painful injuries can be easily avoided if you follow simple prevention measures and continue with your active lifestyle.

What is an overuse injury?

An overuse injury occurs when you stress your joints, muscles, bones, tendons or ligaments repeatedly without allowing it to heal. Overuse injury is more of an umbrella term for a range of injuries that occur due to overstressing such as oedema, tendinitis, nerve entrapment, tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and more. They are caused by a repetitive action using a body part like rotator cuff injury developed by a baseball pitcher who constantly uses his throwing arm.

Common Causes

Since overuse injury is a collective term for various repetitive stress related injuries, the causes differ for each type of injury for e.g. a person who works for long hours on a computer may develop carpel tunnel syndrome due to bad typing posture or a long distance jogger might develop a stress fracture in a foot bone from too much running. Even in the same body part varying force or repetitive action can cause different injuries.

Tips for prevention

The tips for prevention from overuse injuries are simple changes in your routine so that you enjoy your favourite activity and stay injury free.

  •  The Right Gear

It is important to have the right gear in place so that you don’t sustain any injuries from awkward positioning. Keep track of your running shoes or your sport equipment and make sure you don’t use worn out ones. For work related injuries, keep a check on your seating equipment and workstation ergonomics for comfortable usage.

  • Exercise Routine

Plan your exercise routine accordingly so that any offending activity is kept to the minimum without repetition. Also when increasing your activity intensity, make sure you follow the 10% rule which states that any workout metric should be increased only by 10% per week such as weights, duration and distance.

  • Warm up and Cool down

Make sure you start your workout with a warm up session to avoid injuries. A comprehensive stretching workout, for about 5-10 minutes, could go a long way in avoiding injuries. Also, perform stretching exercises for proper cool down after workout session.

  • Listen to your body

It is possible to develop an injury even after taking every possible prevention measure. ‘No pain, no gain’ mantra doesn’t apply in case of overuse injuries. Listen to your body as chronic pain could be a sign of an overuse injury. Take some time off from your regular routine and go for a physical evaluation.

Overuse injuries progress notoriously slow. So, you if have chronic pain after some physical activity, get it evaluated by a physician or therapist soon.