Avoiding These Common Overuse Injuries
After a seemingly endless winter, and a cold start to spring, most of us are no doubt itching to spend some quality time soaking up some vitamin D.
Unfortunately, we often get caught up in our zeal to get back into shape for the nice weather and are prone to ending up with overuse injuries. Overuse injuries happen gradually, and progress over time due to repetitive microtrauma to our bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Normally our bodies can heal with rest, but when we push ourselves too quickly, or don’t allow our bodies enough time to recover, we may end up with some of the following common overuse injuries.
1. Achilles Tendinopathy
Overuse injuries of the achilles tendon, more commonly referred to as achilles tendinitis, affects athletes, recreational gym goers and those with a more sedentary lifestyle equally. Symptoms often include soreness and stiffness in the morning which improves with activity, and pain during or after activity. Some common causes of achilles tendinopathy are overuse of the calf muscles while running, using unsupportive footwear, increasing your work out or mileage drastically, and of course the weekend warrior lifestyle. Chronic achilles pain and tendinopathy can lead to a spontaneous rupture in the long run, so don’t ignore that persistent nagging discomfort in your heel!
2. Tennis Elbow
One of the more common types of overuse injuries is tendonitis of the forearm extensor group, more commonly referred to as tennis elbow. Despite it’s name, you don’t need to play tennis to get it. In fact, most people who suffer from lateral elbow tendinopathy don’t get it from playing tennis. Those who partake in a lot of gripping activities for leisure or for work are prone to developing microtrauma in the forearm extensor group. Gardening, carpentry, golfing, typing, and mowing the lawn are all activities that can lead to tennis elbow if done in excess, or may aggravate an existing case. If caught early, it is often to correct your biomechanics and way of moving to decrease the overuse of your wrist extensor group. However, persistent cases have proven to be difficult to fully resolve by means of cortisone injections, surgery, and even therapies. If you find your elbows aching after any gripping activities, think about getting checked out by a professional who can assess your movement patterns!
3. Patellar Tendinitis
A fairly common injury affecting the patellar tendon, which connects the patella to the tibia, your shin bone. Those who partake in jumping activities such as basketball, volleyball may be more prone to developing this overuse injury, particularly if their jumping and landing form is incorrect. Cycling with your seat too low may also lead to increased load and strain on the patellar tendon. Common symptoms are pain just below your patella after prolonged activity, pain during heavy activity, and stiffness in the morning or after prolonged periods of sitting or immobility. Physical therapy exercises for patellar tendonitis typically focus on correcting the cause of the tendonopathy, which is usually overuse of the quadriceps muscles instead of the glutes, and decreased activation of core musculature.
The above cases are just a few examples of the many overuse injuries that may occur, but don’t let that scare you away from being active! The common denominator of overuse injuries is 1) increasing your training or activity volume too much too soon, 2) doing it with bad form, and 3) not allowing for enough rest. So if you’re thinking of taking up a new physical activity, make sure you receive proper instruction, progress yourself at a moderate rate, and listen to your body if you feel too fatigued and achy! For those of you beginning a new activity with existing pain, it pays to visit a physical therapist who can help rehabilitate your existing injury, and faulty movement patterns before trying something new.