Dealing With Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries are a common threat to a great number of people across the globe every year. It is estimated that in athletes alone, approximately 10 percent of participants suffer annually from an overuse injury. Don’t be mistaken either, athletes are not alone in this realm of suffering. Overuse injuries can occur from sports and recreational activities, occupational hazards, household chores, or any tasks that are performed repetitively. So what does this have to do with prepping? There is a fairly widespread feeling amongst preppers to learn new skills, get into better shape, do this thing or that thing better, or make up of what others are not doing. This can lead to overuse injuries!

What Causes Overuse Injuries?

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine provides a very clear and easy to understand definition of the cause of overuse injuries,

The human body has a tremendous capacity to adapt to physical stress. In fact, many positive changes occur as a result of this. With exercise and activity, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments get stronger and more functional. This happens because of an internal process called remodeling. The remodeling process involves both the break down and build up of tissue. There is a fine balance between the two and if break down occurs more rapidly than build up, injury occurs.

When these injuries occur it can be a result of starting a new activity and trying to do too much, too soon. An example would be relocating from an urban environment to a rural location having never split firewood before and deciding to split an entire tree’s worth of wood in one day. This would likely be too much, too soon and could lead to an overuse injury because your body is not used to this activity and your body would not be able to fully recover from this activity. Undertaking a new activity and using a poor technique can also lead to injury.

Other risk factors that can lead to overuse injuries include previous injuries, making up for lost time after taking a break from an activity, poor form, using improper or broken equipment, differences in work surfaces (hard vs. soft), and anatomical factors such as flat feet or unequal leg lengths.

Preventing Overuse Injuries

As the saying goes…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With that being said, prevention can come in a number of ways. Someone with experience/expertise that can offer assistance in proper technique will be invaluable in helping prevent injury. Taking the time to stretch and properly warm-up prior to starting any activity is also helpful. Another prevention technique is the ten percent rule which essentially equates to not adding more than 10 percent to any activity or training program per week to avoid injury. An example of the ten percent rule is a runner not adding more than 10% to their total distance as compared to the week before. This can prevent overuse injuries like shin splints for the runner.

Diagnosing Overuse Injuries

There is only one way to get diagnosed with an overuse injury. *See a healthcare provider. There is not any equivalent to this option. Not every overuse injury requires an elaborate set of tests to be diagnosed but there is no substitution for the expertise of a physician. With that being said, there are ways to treat your symptoms if you are not able to immediately seek medical care for some reason.

Treating Overuse Injuries

One of the primary methods of treatment for overuse injuries is either rest or an easy/hard approach where a combination of easy and hard activities are facilitate continued activity and maintenance of overall fitness while individual injuries recover. These practices can be especially useful in treating the early symptoms of overuse injuries. R.I.C.E. is another useful tool in treating overuse injuries to the extremities, especially those that involve swelling. The acronym R.I.C.E. stands for:

  • Rest – Rest to prevent further injury.
  • Ice – Ice the area to help prevent swelling.
  • Compression – Use an ACE wrap to provide compression.
  • Elevation – Elevate the injured extremity will also reduce swelling.

Pain can also be a particularly bothersome symptom which be alleviated by aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications. By the way…pain is usually the body’s way of saying slow down a little.

How do you prevent overuse injuries? Leave a comment and let us know how.

*DISCLAIMER – The author is not a physician and the information and opinions expressed in this article are not in any way a substitution for the treatment and advice of a licensed medical provider. The information, views, and opinions expressed in the article are provided for informational purposes only and should be used at the readers risk.

Source: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

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