Avoiding Overuse Injuries

Understanding how to pace yourself while getting fit is key to staying healthy and enjoying physical activity throughout your life.

Overuse injuries can be any type of muscle or joint injury like rotator cuff injury, bursitis, tendonitis, or stress fractures that are caused by repetitive trauma. Overuse injuries are usually caused by biting off more than you can chew, or using bad form when you exercise.

When you take on too much physical activity too quickly, you can hurt yourself. Pushing too hard too soon or simply doing too much of one type of physical activity can strain your body and lead to an overuse injury.

The fear of overuse injuries should not prevent you from exercising. Here are some common sense ways you can avoid overuse injuries:

  • Get a physical before you start exercising. You may have muscular imbalances or medical conditions that can make you predisposed to developing an overuse injury.
  • Consider using a personal trainer. Using the correct technique is crucial to preventing overuse injuries. A good, certified personal trainer can help you begin a new, safe exercise regimen.
  • Use new/well-maintained shoes. When your shoes wear down, you don’t get the proper support, and this can contribute to overuse injuries.
  • Consider the tortoise and the hare. Easing into your new fitness routine/training will help you continue to stay active for years to come. Don’t try to do too much too soon.
  • Warm up, cool down, and stretch. A dynamic stretching warm-up of 5 to 10 minutes and a static stretching routine for 5 to 10 minutes at the end of the hour will do wonders for avoiding injuries. Consider ways to modify activities to fit your present fitness level.
  • Gradually increase your activity level. When changing your activity level or the amount of weight you’re using while strength training, keep it gradual — such as increases of no more than 10 percent each week until you reach your new goal.
  • Try a tri. Done correctly, triathlon training is a perfect balance of running, swimming, cycling, and core strength – a perfect balance to make you really fit and avoid overuse injuries. Even just following a triathlon training program will give you a nice balance of different forms of cardio, strength, and flexibility.

It’s great to set new fitness goals; don’t let overuse injuries sideline you. By working with your orthopedic physician and a personal trainer or physical therapist, easing into activities, and cross training, you can prevent overuse injuries.

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