WHAT ARE OVERUSE INJURIES:
When your child plays a certain sport continuously, he/she is repetitively straining the same structures of the body, whether it be their elbows in tennis or their knees in long jump. Most sports emphasise a certain area of the body during its movement patterns, which can lead to over-development of this body area. Not only does this result in an imbalance of muscle strength and mobility, but the repetitive strain causes micro-trauma to certain ligaments, tendons and bones, which ultimately open the door for overuse injuries to occur. Common examples include tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, jumper’s knee, runner’s knee, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints and plantar fasciitis. During this micro-trauma (tissue breakdown), a process called remodelling takes place and for the most part it is beneficial as it allows for the build-up of new tissue which leads to stronger structures. However, there is a fine line between the 2 phases, and if the breakdown phase occur more than tissue buildup, an overuse injury will occur.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO OVERUSE INJURIES:
- Playing one sport repetitively throughout the year
- Sudden increase in training frequency, intensity and/or duration
- Returning to sport after an injury and progressing too fast to make up for lost time
- Technique errors
- Genetic predisposition – including hypermobility, muscle strength imbalances, body alignment variations (knock-knees, bowlegs, unequal leg lengths, flat or overarched feet) or weak-links in the body due to old injuries that didn’t receive complete rehabilitation
- Equipment & terrain – type of shoes worn and whether the sport is on a hard surface compared to grass, etc
Overuse injuries are mostly diagnosed by either a sports physician, physiotherapist or Biokineticist. In some cases X-rays and other imaging such as MRI scans and bone scans may be required.
- Reduce the intensity, frequency and/or duration
- Add other activities into the mix and use this to cross-train to keep up fitness levels but still break from your main sport
- Educate yourself on proper technique and training from your coach
- Ensure a proper warm-up and cool down before and after your training
- Apply ice after your training to the strained area
- Use anti-inflammatory medications as needed and prescribed by a sports physiciam
- If symptoms persist, consult with your sports physician, physiotherapist or Biokineticist for a more detailed treatment and management plan for your condition. This may include a complete evaluation and reviewing your current training schedule. Biokinetic rehab sessions will be beneficial to get you back to pain-free training sooner.
The good news is that overuse injuries can easily be avoided by listening to your body and knowing when is ‘enough’ and when to ‘take a break’. The age old saying of “no pain no gain” does not apply here!! Be sure to get sound advice from your coach or trainer with regards to training progressions. Generally your program shouldn’t progress more than 10% per week. This allows your body time to adapt to the new level before throwing more at it when it’s not ready to handle it. It’s essential to give your body time to adapt, respond and recover during each training progression.
If you are battling with an overuse injury, consult your Biokineticist who can safely adapt your training program to keep you fit and active without exacerbating your current condition, to ensure a quick return to pain-free training. Return to sport should only be once clearance is granted by your Biokineticist, physio or sports physician.
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