A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Pace yourself to prevent overuse injury

woman stretchingHolding back may be tough to do when you’re motivated and ready to start an exercise program or return fully to your sport after a sports injury. To prevent overuse injury, ease into any exercise
program and gradually increase activity.

What causes overuse injury?

When you increase activity, be it walking, running, swimming or some other favorite sport, unique stresses are placed on your muscles, bones and heart. Progressing too quickly to a level of exertion in which your body is not accustomed puts you at risk for muscle strains or tendonitis, bursitis, stress reactions or fracture.

The human body is a wonder that continuously adapts to stresses placed on it. Without considering effects of age, the body will increase bone and muscle mass as activity is increased. This also works in reverse because as we become more sedentary, bone density will decrease and muscle mass will diminish.

Allow time for recovery between workouts

At the beginning of an exercise program or sport season, we’re more susceptible to demands placed on our body. Bones and muscles will adapt accordingly, but this takes time. With every workout, your body will heal and remodel itself to better serve you. Without adequate recovery time, our muscles and bones will fail us, resulting in micro-trauma and overuse injuries.

You can prevent an overuse injury from doing too much, too fast, too soon. Increase your distance, time or intensity by no more than 10 percent in one week. Combine this guideline with periods of recovery, mild to moderate workouts and a few intensive sessions to safely progress in activity. This slow and steady approach may help you reach your fitness goals in stride and avoid a setback.

This post provided by Sports Wrap, from Marshfield Clinic Sports Medicine.

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