How To Prevent Sports Overuse Injuries

"Move it or lose it," as the saying goes, but excessive exercise or sports participation can lead to overuse injuries.

Damage to bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles can result from repetitive motion injuries, which include those caused by sports like running, throwing, biking, lifting, and swimming, to name a few.

Overuse injuries can happen if you do too much too soon, don't warm up or cool down, don't give yourself enough time to recover after exercise, or don't do the right cross-training to support the activity. 

Shoulder impingement

An overuse injury to the rotator cuff, the muscles, and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, is shoulder impingement. 

According to Jessica Moyer, owner of Viva Stretch in Jacksonville, Florida, and a sports rehabilitation specialist for close to 20 years, it is brought on by "repetitive overhead activities while the shoulder joint is in a forward rotated position."

Active adults in their 30s and 40s are most likely to feel pain, which is typically felt when lifting objects above their heads.

According to Dr. Lawrence Gulotta, director of the hospital's Sports Medicine Institute's shoulder and elbow division, this kind of injury frequently occurs when people lift weights improperly or too quickly.

How to stop it: 

Moyer advises developing the muscles in the shoulder blade. 

"This is important," she said, to keep the shoulder in the proper position and avoid injury. Moyer says it's also essential to "keep the shoulder moving in all directions." 

Stretching regularly and warming up are both critical for maintaining flexibility.

 IT Band Syndrome

The iliotibial band (ITB) is a band of connective tissue that runs outside the leg from the hip to just below the knee.

According to Moyer, the band tightens and pulls on the side of the knee when the load on that tissue exceeds its capacity. This overuse injury happens a lot to runners and cyclists, but it can happen to other athletes as well. 

It starts as pain outside the knee that worsens with repetitive motion. It may also be accompanied by popping, clicking, or snapping sounds. 

How to stop it: 

Moyer says to strengthen your hips and core while keeping your hamstrings, hip flexors, and piriformis (a pear-shaped muscle in the gluteal region of the hip and proximal thigh) flexible. 

According to Moyer, a runner's knee happens when "muscle tightness pulls the kneecap in the wrong direction, causing the kneecap to rub over the bone behind it." 

According to her, tight hip flexors, hamstrings, or ITB muscles are frequently to blame for the pulling. 

Runner's knee

In addition, Johns Hopkins Medicine says that it causes dull pain in the front of the knee and can sometimes cause the knee cap to become weak. There may also be rubbing, grinding, or clicking in the kneecap. 

How to stop it: 

It is essential to warm up and stretch the hip flexor, ITB, and hamstring muscles properly before and after repetitive activities like running and biking. 

Moyer also said that strengthening your quadriceps will help your kneecaps stay in the right place when you work out for a long time. 

Shin splints

A shin injury Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are an overuse injury that affects the tibia, a large bone in the lower leg. 

Moyer says that "tight calf muscles" make it worse because they pull on the shins when you run or jump.

It is typical of dancers and runners. Shin splints make the shin bone sore and tender. According to the Mayo Clinic, more severe cases will come with swelling and, if untreated, can result in stress fractures. 

According to Dr. Lawrence Gulotta, director of the hospital's Sports Medicine Institute's shoulder and elbow division, this kind of injury frequently occurs when people lift weights improperly or too quickly.

The Mayo Clinic also says it is essential to wear the right shoes and train in ways like gradually increasing the number and intensity of workouts. According to Moyer, like shin splints, plantar fasciitis is brought on by calf muscle tightness. 

She went on to say that other possible causes include not having the right shoes, limiting the big toe's range of motion, and having weak ankles, knees, or hips. 

Plantar fasciitis

The plantar fascia supports the foot arch and connects the heel bone to the toes. Johns Hopkins Medicine claims that inflammation and pain in the heel can result from overuse. 

How to stop it: 

Moyer says it's important to keep the foot flexible and move the big toe joint all the way out. Also crucial are appropriate training methods and footwear. 

Moyer gave the following advice to prevent overuse accidents:

  1. 1. Be consistent in your warm-up and cool-down procedures before and after exercise.
  2. 2. After a challenging workout, give your body some time to recover.
  3. 3. Include cross-training in your exercise routine.
  4. 4. Increase your exercise frequency and intensity gradually.
  5. 5. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. 

Finally, never disregard your body's signals. Overuse injuries can be excruciating and take many different shapes. They may impair performance as well. Fortunately, they are easily avoidable with the proper precautions and good form. 

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