How can I prevent training injuries?
Whether you are starting a new activity or you have been exercising for a long time, most overuse injuries are avoidable. Learn how to pace yourself while getting fit and how to recognize when your body may need rest. Your best fitness intentions can be sabotaged by being at risk of an overuse injury.
Among common causes of overuse injury are:
Training errors: These can occur when you take on too much physical activity too quickly (too much too fast), training too intensely, exercising for too long or simply doing too much of ONE type of activity. Muscles can be strained causing an overuse injury.
To prevent: Pace yourself and gradually increase your activity level. Avoid becoming a “weekend warrior”. Spread your fitness activity throughout the week instead of compressing it into the two weekend days. Some athletes mistakenly think more exercise is better, and they fail to get adequate rest between workouts.
Technique errors: Improper technique and poor body mechanics can also take a toll on your body. Most people need some professional coaching at the beginning of any new activity to learn the fundamentals and develop good habits. We are all unique and some movements may be better-suited to your abilities and body structure. An instructor can help you modify exercise movement (when needed) to better match your abilities or biomechanics.
To prevent: Consider getting fitness coaching or training from a fitness professional to develop good workout technique, form and habits.
Repeated movement: Doing the same exercise day after day is another way to end up with an overuse injury. Stressing the same muscle groups and performing the same movement patterns repeatedly can put a strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments. This can cause irritation, inflammation and even stress fractures.
To prevent: Cross training or doing a variety of different types of exercise will help avoid muscle strain. Mix up your routine and build variety into your fitness program. There are many low impact activities - such as walking, biking, swimming and cardio fitness classes - that will allow your body to use muscle groups differently.
Improper footwear: Wearing the right shoe for the activity you will be doing is important, especially for runners. Know when using shoe inserts or insoles are helpful.
Surfaces: For runners, the terrain you run on can also lead to injury.
Improper equipment: Using the wrong equipment or poorly fitting equipment can lead to stress on the muscles and joints and increase injury risk.
If you suspect you have an overuse injury, consult your doctor. You will likely be advised to take a break from the activity that caused the injury and given any medication for pain and inflammation you may need. When you think the overuse injury has healed, make sure you have completely regained strength, motion, flexibility and balance before beginning the activity again. Many athletes try to come back from an injury too quickly, frequently developing a secondary overuse injury while trying to "make up for lost time". Pay special attention to proper technique to avoid future injuries.
Although an overuse injury can happen to anyone, you may be more prone to this type of injury if you have certain medical conditions or take certain medications that can affect your balance. Overuse injuries are also more likely to occur as you get older - especially if you don't recognize the impact aging can have on your body and learn to modify your routine accordingly.
Don't allow an overuse injury to prevent you from being physically active. Listen to your body, pace yourself, cross train to avoid this common setback.
Fitness Professionals are available to you - be safe and have fun!!