An overuse injury can occur when you take on too much repetitive physical activity at once. You may have heard the expression, “Slow and steady wins the race.” It means to pace yourself, and it surely applies to exercise. Your body needs time to adjust to new movements, load, speed and duration of activity.
Follow these tips to avoid overuse injuries to your muscles, tendons and bones so that you can remain in the game:
Preparation is key to success in exercise. It can help keep you safe from overuse injury. Make sure you have the right gear for your activity such as good shoes for walking or running, and replace them regularly.
You can’t go wrong talking with your healthcare provider if you’re exercising for the first time or have a chronic health condition.
2. Warm up, cool down
Muscles that have had a chance to warm up are less prone to overuse injury. Warm up with a short walk or by jogging in place before you begin your main activity. Then slowly stretch a bit, and you’re ready to go.
Repeat this process after your activity — do some stretching and then cool down with a brief walk or jog.
3. Go gradually
Be realistic about your fitness and skill level, and don’t try to do too much at once. Gradually build up the amount of time you do an activity and number of repetitions. This will give your body time to adjust and be spared from overuse injury.
Spread your activity out over the week rather than cram it all into a couple of days.
4. Incorporate variety
Choose more than one activity or sport. Research shows that you’re more likely to have an overuse injury when you focus on only one activity.
If you love to run, give swimming or yoga a try. You’ll use different muscles and give others a break from daily wear and tear.
Your body needs time to recover from activity. You’re more likely to get an overuse injury when you overdo it. A little minor muscle ache is normal after exercise.
If you have pain, give yourself a break or change activities. Don’t overdo it — listen to your body and be kind to it.
Some common overuse injuries include:
- ACL injuries
- Hip muscle and tendon overuse injuries
- Cartilage injuries
- Hamstring muscle strain injuries
- Ligament injuries
- Repetitive motion and overhead injuries
A sports medicine or orthopaedic specialist can help make sure you're ready for activity and know how to avoid overuse injury. Request an appointment online or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536).