What Is an Overuse Injury?

By admin
August 8, 2012

When we use the term “sports injury,” we’ll often be thinking of acute injuries like sprains and fractures – conditions that are a result of a single, traumatic event. But, did you know that these are not the number-one type of sports injuries among athletes? Rather, the most common types of injuries are those that occur gradually and over time. Here, we’re talking about what are called “overuse injuries.” Never heard this term before? Here’s a brief introduction.

You can think of an overuse injury as a series of small injuries that occur gradually over time, often going unnoticed. And, while your body has a remarkable ability to recover from the demands of physical activity, if you don’t give yourself the ability to heal, these “mini traumas” can add up to a serious overuse injury. So, why does this happen? Often, the biggest culprits are over-training, improper form and athletes not listening to their bodies.

Here are three of the most common overuse injuries today:

  1. Tennis Elbow: Tennis elbow, also known as lateral “epicondylitis,” is an injury that affects the area where the forearm’s tendons connect with the bony outer portion of the elbow. Common symptoms include forearm weakness and pain when the arm is extended.
  2. Swimmer’s Shoulder: Swimmer's shoulder is a common injury affecting the rotator cuff. Occurring as a result of improper strokes, a significant increase in training intensity or simply from overuse, swimmer’s shoulder is typically associated with tenderness and weakness in the shoulder.
  3. Runner’s Knee: Runner's knee – also known as “patellofemoral pain syndrome” – is a common injury among runners. Characterized by pain behind or around the kneecap, the condition can worsen during physical activities such as walking or kneeling.

Preventing Overuse Injuries

There’s no surefire way to prevent a sports-related injury – sometimes they’re simply part of the game. There are, however, ways to help your odds. Looking for a few pointers?

Here are 5 Tips for Preventing Overuse Injuries:

  1. Listen to your body. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop. Barreling through a painful workout is a surefire ticket to a sports injury.
  2. Train within your ability. Know your limits – instead of worrying about being the fastest or strongest, work toward perfect form and accuracy.
  3. Take days to rest. Never underestimate the power of rest. This gives your body a chance to recover from the demands of physical activity.
  4. Always warm up and cool down. A good warm up and cool down are vital to your exercise success. Warming up increases flexibility, gets your blood pumping and reduces your chance of injury. A cool down helps you recover from exercise and can reduce muscle tension.
  5. Consult with a Sports Medicine Physician: Most importantly, speak with a Sports Medicine Physician. This is especially important if you think you’re already suffering from a sports related injury.

Sports Medicine in Napa and Vacaville

To find out more about injury prevention and starting an exercise regimen that’s right for you, contact us today. Call our Sports Medicine and Orthopedic offices at 707.258.2547 in Napa or 707.446.6206 in Vacaville. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Injury Prevention


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