This weeks post I would like to educate along with sharing my personal experience about overuse. So far I have had a few injuries during my professional career including ankle, shoulder, side of the hip and most recent this past week front of the hip. You may have even seen me limping around the gym. These injuries have all occurred because of overuse. I am super active in my daily day which includes instructing classes, meeting with clients, caring for 3 kids and maintaining a household. This requires a lot of movement and standing on my feet most of the day. This makes me a perfect candidate for an overuse injury.
Overuse injuries are very common for over active people such as myself and athletes. But, you don’t necessarily have to be an athlete for an overuse injury to occur. They can also occur due to profession, hobbies, or daily repetitive movements. For certain jobs or hobbies you may be engaging the same muscles and joints over and over for several hours a day. If that is the case those muscles and joints are susceptible to overuse. For example, if you are a runner you may susceptible to hip, knee or ankle injuries. If you are hairdresser you may be susceptible to wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries and the list goes on.
Most of the time I am preaching about making sure you get enough exercise and activity in, but there is also a thing about too much and that is what we are going to discuss.
The body may give some signs of overuse before the injury progresses and that may include:
mild discomfort in area of injury
limited mobility or limited mobility without pain
pain during movement
visible swelling or redness
lack of physical strength
These signs usually mean something is brewing and you may need to pay attention to it to prevent further damage or stress to that area.
Now let’s discuss ways you can prevent overuse:
Allow for rest and recovery
It is very important to rest and recover those muscles and joints used in exercise or daily activities and make sure that they get full recovery before using again. If those areas need to be used without full recovery be sure to take care in using them with slower controlled movements, proper form and low resistance. Anytime that you are not required to use those areas make sure they are at rest.
Mix it up
If your workouts are causing you overuse injuries be sure to mix it up.
Do not do the same workout every time. For example, If you are runner do not run all the time. Do some other exercises that might utilize the muscles in a different way without the same repetitive motion. Or, mix in some upper body days in between runs to allow the legs full recovery before your next run.
Watch the intensity of your workouts. You cannot expect to be hi-intensity all the time. Your body may not be able to sustain the stress of hi-intensity workouts on a consistent basis. Even if you feel your body is capable of constant hi-intensity it is not always a good idea. Mix it up by incorporating low-intensity workouts in with hi-intensity workouts. Allow the body full recovery after hi-intensity workouts as muscles will be fatigued and susceptible to injury if they are not fully recovered.
Eat to recover
That means get good sources of lean protein to help support muscle growth and recovery, get your daily calcium intake with low-fat dairy foods or supplements to support bone health and drink plenty of water for proper hydration.
If you have signs of inflammation take the time to ice those areas especially after workouts or daily activities. Ice will help control or prevent any inflammation from getting worse.
Seek a professional for ways to rehabilitate any area of concern through proper strengthening, stretching, massage therapy or other method of relief. It is always best to first get a diagnosis from dr and get recommendations on what method of therapy will work best for your injury.
Evaluate and re-evaluate
Evaluate and re-evaluate what you are capable of. Be sure that if you increase your workouts in either intensity via speed, range of motion, power, resistance or any other way, make sure your body is fully ready. Start by increasing slowly in small increments at a time. Some times your body may not be able to do something you did the day before so constant re-evaluation in the moment is crucial. Just because you did it yesterday doesn’t mean your body is capable or prepared for it today!
Whenever I get an overuse injury it is a reminder to me that I am not super human and I may be over exerting what my body is capable of. That is when I need to re-evaluate what I am doing, the workouts that I am engaging in and adjust them accordingly.
This evaluation process should be done on a daily basis in regular daily activities and during exercise.
Some of the things that you should be asking yourself when evaluating are:
How are you feeling in that the moment? Can you push those limits to progress or do you need to pull back? If you are feeling strong you may be able to push your limits, if you are feeling overwhelmed or weak you may need to pull back.
Are you in a recovery state or fully recovered from previous workout or activity? If your body is not fully recovered you are more susceptible to injury from fatigued muscles therefore you may need to lower the intensity.
Are you functionally and physically ready for that intensity? You must be sure you have built a strong foundation before you can progress to a higher intensity level. If you are going to intensify an exercise or workout your body has to have been physically trained and prepared to do that.
Do you have current injuries that you need to consider? If you have injuries you will need to be aware of those and consider them in your exercises and workouts. Low resistance and intensity of those areas are crucial. Movement can be good but too much vigorous movement or resistance is not.
Are you in good health, fully rested with proper nutrition and hydration? You must consider if you are ill, had enough sleep, nutrition and hydration. If you are deficient in any of these it will hinder your performance and make you more susceptible for an overuse injury.
All of these things are factors in your performance of any activity in which you are doing. To avoid overuse injuries be sure you are always working within your capable limits.
One of the things I try to do in the instruction of my classes is teach each exercise with at least 2-3 different levels. This allows each person to evaluate themselves and decide which level they need to be working at. Make sure you know how to increase or decrease the exercises in which you are doing to accommodate the level in which you need to be at.
Even Athletes need to consider all of these things when training. They are not exempt from overuse injuries and neither are we. We are our own Athletes training to live our best lives. Let’s move but not overuse those bodies!