Whether you are a sports athlete, a gym rat, or an at-home workout warrior, you face the risk of an overuse injury. “An overuse injury is any type of muscle or joint injury… that’s caused by repetitive trauma” (Mayo Clinic). Examples of common overuse injuries include: “tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, youth pitching elbow, runner’s knee, jumper’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, and shin splints” (Stop Sports Injuries). We understand that it is hard to take a break from training when you are trying to hit a new fitness and/or performance goal, but your body will thank you in the long run.
Most overuse injuries are preventable if you pay attention to your body’s needs. Adopting the following guidelines for proper training will drastically decrease your likelihood of suffering from an overuse injury:
- Practice proper form. When performing any repetitive movement (i.e. pitching a baseball, running, or lifting weights), proper form is essential to avoid injury. If you are not sure what proper form is for a certain movement, check with a coach or athletic trainer.
- Distribute your activity.The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week with at least two strength training sessions. Dedicate 30-60 minutes, 5-days a week to exercising, movement, and training. This breakdown allows you time to rest and you won’t be pushing yourself too hard with overly intensive training.
- Moderately increase difficulty. Whether you’re just starting a new program or want to up the intensity of your current training, do so gradually. For example, increase the weight you lift by no more than 10 percent in 1-2 week increments (Mayo Clinic).
- Adopt cross-training.“To continue to improve your fitness level and reap all the benefits of regular exercise, you need to keep your body guessing. Cross training does this for you. When you do the same activity over and over, you also set yourself up for overuse injuries. Cross training helps solve this problem, too” (WebMD). Cross training is a great way to work different muscle groups in a variety of ways each week and allows you to stretch and build muscle the proper way.
Sometimes, regardless of how hard you try to avoid it, an overuse injury can occur. It’s important to start treatment as soon as the discomfort begins to help avoid more serious injury. Stop Sports Injuries offers the following at-home treatments for any overuse injury:
- Don’t train again until you can do it comfortably
- Reduce intensity and length of training, especially the exercises the aggravate your injury
- Warm-up before exercising and stretch after you are done
- Apply ice and/or heat to the area of your injury daily/as needed
If at-home treatments do not remedy your injury, we recommend visiting us to meet with a physical therapist or to discuss treatment with our sports medicine expert. Make an appointment today and get back to training in no time!