Posted on 12th February 2018 by Fiona
What is an overuse injury?
An overuse injury is normally a long standing or chronic injury that gradually occurs over a period of time, rather than a sudden, acute traumatic injury. Repetitive minor or micro trauma to a muscle, joint, ligament or tendon such as a tendinopathy or stress fracture, are just a couple of examples of overuse injuries.
What causes overuse injuries?
Overuse injuries are often linked to training overload in athletes, or sudden changes in activities that put stress through the body which they are not used to and therefore overload the soft tissue or bone. When we take up a new hobby, sport or activity or increase training levels/load this will put increased stress onto our body, this will lead the body having to adapt. However, if the body is not given time to adapt and the body is overloaded then this can, in some cases, lead to repetitive ‘microtrauma’ to the tissues. This can be unnoticed for a long time, or thought to be just a muscle ache. Some causes of this include:
- Poor Technique
- Muscle imbalances
- Training overload/level
- Biomechanics of your foot
What might it feel like?
Depending on the affected tissue or body part will depend on how it will feel. Common symptoms include:
- Pain that starts initially during a warm up that then eases of and returns at the end of your sport or activity
- Consistent pinching or sharp pain on specific movements
- Constant dull ache
How do the symptoms progress?
Overuse injuries can be slow in developing and last a long time. The longer the problem is ignored the worse or more frequent the symptoms can become. This may lead to pain every time you engage in your sport or activity and may also lead to pain/swelling afterwards.
How is it diagnosed?
If you think you may be suffering with an overuse injury, it is important to get an assessment by a physiotherapist or sports therapist. The key to effective management of an overuse injury is accurately identifying exactly what’s causing it and addressing this. This will help to prevent any of those niggles turning into a bigger problem and possibly preventing you doing the sport of activity that you love.
What is the best treatment for overuse injuries?
There are lots of treatments that can be used to help, depending on the injury. Treatment will often start with easing the symptoms of the injury, such as pain and inflammation. In parallel to this, addressing the underlying cause and working on strength and stability to prevent reoccurence is key. Treatments may include:
- Advice and education
- Selective rest
- Training adjustments
- Sports massage
- Exercise rehabilitation
- Technique analysis/correction
When the underlying issue is addressed and appropriate changes are made, overuse injuries can be solved. They can often be a very frustrating injury, as they inevitably need a bit of rest and trial and error to work out exactly what’s causing the issue. That’s where we come in, seeing an expert can guide you through the puzzle of injury and help get you back doing what you love as quickly and painlessly as possible.