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What are overuse injuries?

Published: 06 December 2017 - Injury Treatment and Prevention, Physio Tips

Image of a female stretching

Anyone who has exercised for a prolonged period has likely felt the frustration of an overuse injury. Overuse injuries such as shin splints, tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis are all too common.

Most often these types of injuries are not excruciatingly debilitating - just plain old annoying. The good news is that there are simple and effective ways you can alleviate overuse injuries and also prevent them from happening again.

What causes overuse injuries?

For many years exercise enthusiasts and associated medical practitioners have put these types of injuries down to overuse - simply training too much over a long period of time. However recently there has been a shift away from this idea of overuse.

New research suggests that inconsistencies in training volume and frequency are more of a risk factor than simply overusing our bodies. Similar research has shown that maintaining consistency with how we are training actually protects us against overuse injuries. 

Our bodies are amazingly adaptive to physical stress but there are limits. At any one point in time our bodies are capable of dealing with finite physical stress; going past this limit lends us vulnerable to injury. 

How or why do we go past this limit? The most common reason is overload brought on by training errors. This can be excessive increases in total time of exercise per session/week/month, intensity of exercise, frequency of exercise/training and changes in the type of exercise e.g. a new form of exercise.

How do I avoid overuse injuries?

Listen to your body

As simple as it sounds, listening to your body may be the most important component to preventing "overuse" injuries. If your body is screaming for a rest after a few weeks of hard training, then it probably needs a rest!

Be patient and set realistic goals

Quite often a reason for overloading is trying to reach your goals too fast when your body is not ready. Setting realistic timeframes for your goals with your physiotherapist can help avoid acute overload.  

Have a structured training program

Having a structured exercise/training program can help you to avoid overloading your body. It also assists with goal setting and helps with keeping motivated and accountable.

Include strengthening and/or stability exercises into your routine

Often biomechanical or strength deficits can contribute to overuse injuries and acute overload in various tissues throughout the body. Improving your strength and/or stability can increase the efficiency of your movement making it more resistant to fatigue and injury.

We are experts in assessing any biomechanical and strength deficits that you may possess and providing the answer on how to rectify any deficits. Contact us today to book your free intial assessment.