Sports injuries tend to be categorized as either traumatic (acute) injuries or overuse (chronic) injuries. Acute injuries are usually the result of a specific impact or traumatic event. Overuse injuries tend to have subtle or vague symptoms that develop slowly. They begin as a small, nagging ache or pain, and can grow into a debilitating injury if they aren't treated early.
Overuse injuries are the result of repetitive use, stress and trauma to the soft tissues of the body (muscles, tendons, bones and joints) when there is not enough time for proper healing. They are sometimes called cumulative trauma, or repetitive stress injuries. Examples include tendonitis, tennis elbow and shin splints.
Most sports injuries are overuse injuries and they often occur at the start of a new exercise routine (too much, too soon), or in long-time exercisers who don't allow for enough rest and recovery.
The main factors in the development of overuse injuries include:
Doing Too Much, Too Soon It’s important to start slow and increase your training time and intensity over time. Following the Ten Percent Rule may help you in avoid an overuse injuries.
Overtraining Syndrome Some athletes mistakenly think more exercise is better, and they fail to get adequate rest. This can lead to a chronic, overuse injury. This is also common in advanced exercisers who suddenly increase their time or intensity in an abrupt manner (often while training for an event).
Returning from Injury Too Soon Many athletes try to come back from an injury too quickly. They frequently develop a secondary overuse injury while trying to make up for lost time.
Using Poor Technique Most people need some professional coaching at the beginning of a new sport to learn the fundamentals and develop good habits. Keep in mind that we are all unique and some movements may be better-suited to your abilities or biomechanics. An instructor can help you modify exercises to fit your unique needs.
Golfers tend to have overuse injuries due to poor golf swing mechanics. Working with a coach, personal trainer or therapist can help you avoid these errors.
Doing Only One Type of Exercise Doing the same exercise day after day is another way to end up with an overuse injury. Stressing the same muscle groups and performing the same movement patterns repeatedly can put a tremendous amount of strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments, causing irritation, inflammation and even stress fractures. Even if you successfully avoid an overuse injury, you may end up with muscle imbalance, weakness, tightness and alignment problems. To avoid these problems, vary your exercise training routine. Do a variety of different types of exercise and cross train.
Wearing the Wrong Shoes Wearing the right shoe is important, especially for runners. shoe inserts or insoles are sometimes helpful as is knowing when to replace your running shoes.
Running Surface The terrain you run on can also set you up for injuries.
Using the Wrong Equipment Poorly fitting bicycles, golf clubs, tennis rackets, etc. can lead to stress on the muscles and joints and increase injury risk.
Treating Overuse Injuries
Treating overuse injuries requires resting the stressed tissues. Reducing the intensity, duration or frequency of the exercise will sometimes be all the treatment required for fast relief.
Icing the injury can also help reduce inflammation and pain. For more serious overuse injuries, physical therapy, over-the-counter medications, and complete rest may be necessary.
Preventing Overuse Injuries To prevent the return of overuse injuries, athletes should maintain a training schedule that includes varied intensity and duration as well as type of activity. Getting a proper warm up and cross training is also helpful.