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What Do I Need To Know About Overuse Injuries?

By Staff, 10/11/18, 2:00PM EDT


It’s a common thought that more is better, and to some extent, our culture promotes these thought patterns. Eating vegetables is good but eating more is better. Exercising is good yet exercising harder and longer is better. However, neither is true in all scenarios. While the former can lead to a deficiency in other nutrients (all food groups have a purpose), the latter can lead to burnout and/or serious injury.

An overuse injury refers to a micro traumatic damage to a bone, muscle, or tendon that has likely been subjected to repetitive stress and motion without enough time to heal and repair. Examples of overuse injuries include plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, tennis elbow, runner’s knee, swimmer’s shoulder, Achille tendinitis and shin splints. Overuse injuries commonly occur because of repetitive motions on the same muscle group(s).


Risk Factors for Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries are more likely to occur as we age, regardless of gender. Imbalances between strength and flexibility around certain joints may further predispose individuals to injury. Most adults reach their maximal physical capacity between years 20 and 30. By age 50, there can be an average strength loss of 1.5-5% each year, contributing to a more fragile structure.

“We see overuse injuries a lot, mostly in adults,” says Dr. Robert Morgan, who specializes in sports medicine for OrthoCarolina. “With the upsurge in CrossFit, we now see more adults coming in with upper extremity injuries.”

And it’s not just males competing anymore. There has been a large increase in competitive sports and “weekend warrior” female participation over the last few decades. There has also been a paralleled increase in training related sports injuries among females. Such errors include taking on too much physical activity too rapidly or doing too much without adequate recovery. For example, jumping from running a 5k to a half marathon too quickly without slowly building up mileage. Technique errors, on the other hand, refer to poor form or improper technique that may overload certain muscles.

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