The most common cause of sports injuries is overuse. Today’s high standards of training put a great deal of stress on the body’s joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Swimmers who train several hours a day and runners who run on average fifty to a hundred miles a week are very susceptible to overuse injury. Unfortunately there isn’t a known limit to how much the athlete can train safely. Runners joints become tender and start to stiffen up and this usually happens gradually over time, as with a badminton player whose wrist is hurting, perhaps after playing shots whilst holding the racquet with an incorrect grip which can be responsible for ligament, muscle and tendon damage.
CAUSES OF OVERUSE INJURY
Wrong technique in a sport can lead to overuse injury and it is well worth spending time in correcting technique to prevent further injury and the correct technique usually enhances performance. A faulty grip on a racquet can easily go unnoticed until pain is felt.
- Equipment maybe faulty.
- Bad posture is also often overlooked.
- In training build up is too much too fast.
- Starting exercise too intensely and increasing build up too fast.
- Not warming up
SYMPTOMS – WHAT MIGHT BE RELATED TO OVERUSE
- Joints become sore and tender and loose full movement. This is common with runners training on hard ground.
- Strains and sprains (torn or partially torn tendons, muscles and ligaments) will swell and feel painful and stiff.
HEALING AND RECOVERY
Ice should be applied at four hourly intervals for the first twenty four hours and rested. Place a towel between ice and skin to avoid ice burn. If the injured limb can be elevated above heart level, this and the ice will remove fluid from the injury and reduce swelling.
It depends on the extent of the injury as to what exercises can be done. Long distance runners may be able to continue to run short distances on a softer surface without pain but it is wise to seek medical advice before doing so. It may be that swimming can be used to continue fitness levels whilst resting the injured part. The rest of the body should be exercised if possible to maintain fitness whilst resting the injured part.
The gentle kicking of a football or using a racquet without ball or shuttle can be done before commencing full sport.
PREVENTION OF OVERUSE
Technique should be looked at, maybe corrected or improved. Time spent changing faulty habits can be well worth it, both to help prevent further injury and also performance is usually improved.
Running on hard surfaces can be alternated with for example a grass surface. This can be especially helpful to prevent injury knee overuse
Sports shoes should be changed yearly as support is long gone after a year of constant use, even though it is hard to part with those ripped and floppy comfortable and favourite shoes! Tabs can be inserted into the back of sports shoes to help prevent achilles tendon problems and insoles can be used for extra cushioning.
Make sure a full recovery is achieved before returning to sport.Warm up adequately, this will bring blood and oxygen to the moving parts and lubricate the joints. Make arriving at training sessions in time to warm up a routine part of your training. After injury the risk of further injury is higher so this is very important.
Use common sense to tell you when to stop, especially if you feel fatigued or stiffness. Make sure you eat enough energy foods for your chosen training and avoid exercising on an empty stomach.