Overuse injuries in sport result from doing repetitive activities or maintaining poor postures over a period of time. These activities and postures initially result in minor trauma to body tissue which may include tendons, ligaments and/or bones. This minor trauma usually heals with rest. However, when the minor trauma occurs in a repetitive or sustained manner the consequences are far more serious. In sports overuse also results from doing a lot of repeated high intensity training/games without the appropriate recovery from the fatigued muscles.
When the minor trauma occurs from a single incident we don’t normally feel pain. The body is fully able to heal the injured tissue and we are back to playing sport as if nothing happened.
When this minor trauma to the tissue occurs repeatedly and without a recovery period the body is unable to keep up with the healing process. The minor trauma accumulates and the result is pain, inflammation and wear and tear on the tissue. The individual is then unable to perform at their usual level.
Common overuse injuries
Common overuse injuries include: Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures of the foot, shin splints, osteitis pubis and “growth injuries” such as Osgood Schlatter’s disease and Sever’s disease.
Signs and symptoms of overuse injuries
The common signs and symptoms of overuse injuries are: pain, muscle weakness/soreness, swelling and restricted mobility in the joints.
Physiotherapy should be your first point of call when suffering from overuse injuries. Your physio will look at the complete picture by managing the injury, managing your return to sport and, managing your workload/intensity in order to reduce the risk of re-injury. They will provide you with:
- Pain relief
- Tissue healing
- Exercise prescription (this includes increasing your flexibility)
- Self/Load management strategies for the injury
- Identify and correct by mechanical deficiencies
- Advice on appropriate recovery post exercise
- Prevention advice
Stretching - What, Why, Who, How?
- Do not overdo the same activities, try and alternate activities/training deals.
- Modify the intensity levels of training/games.
- Give your body enough time to recover by having appropriate rest periods.
- Alternate activities, so you not constantly stressing the same body part.
- Remember pain is your body telling you that you are damaging body tissues, respect this message and seek advice from your physio early as this will allow you to maintain your activity.
Many Physio’s receive questions related to stretching. The most common ones are what type? how long to stretch for and should I stretch before sporting contests/games?
How long to stretch for?
The general rule of thumb is to stretch for a combined total of 1 minute, whether that’s 3 x 20 seconds, 2 x 30 seconds or 1 x 60s. If there is severe tightness specific long positional holds such as 2-3 mins may be useful.
Stretching before an event…
Before sporting contests static stretching is ok, however when we stretch our muscles there will be a power lag for around 90 mins, meaning there will be a force production deficit of around 2-5%. So if your tight it would be wise to stretch and loosen up well away from your competition and stick to more sport specific and dynamic movements closer to the game/event.
Stretching post match and event…
The most important time to stretch is immediately post your activity before your completely cooled down. With exercise your muscle length will shorten so to prevent any accumulative joint range of motion loss always adhere to 15 – 20 mins of static stretching after your event.
Low Back Stretch Examples…