Preventing Overuse Injuries
How can athletes protect themselves from overuse injuries? Athletes are often susceptible to overuse injuries as the result of overtraining or improper training techniques. Traumatic injuries (such as fractures) cannot be predicted. On the other hand, overuse injuries in athletes can often be avoided.
Many people believe injuries in sports occur as the result of a direct collision or tripping and falling, which result in fractures and torn tendons and ligaments. However, many injuries in sports are the result of a gradual build-up caused by too much training, increasing a training regime too quickly or poor training technique. Examples of overuse injuries include stress fractures, shin splints, tendinitis, strains and pulled muscles. These injuries can limit an athletes’ ability or even prevent them from participating in sports for weeks or months at a time.
While not all injuries can be prevented, with proper training technique, athletes stand a good chance of preventing overuse injuries. Athletes should:
- Listen to their bodies. An athlete should never push through pain. If pain persists, visit with a doctor.
- Remember the rule of 10. Increase training regimes by 10 percent each week.
- Run on soft and flat surfaces (trails, tracks, treadmills).
- Replace athletic shoes when they become worn or damaged.
- Allow a day of rest after a high-intensity workout.
- Cross-train. Athletes should incorporate a variety of different methods with their training. For instance a runner can cross-train with a low-impact activity like cycling or swimming.
- Women should be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D to ensure strong, healthy bones.
- Always stretch and warm-up prior to engaging in sports or exercise.