Overuse Injuries

What are overuse injuries?

Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive actions, which damage tendons, ligaments, muscles and soft tissues over a period of time.

Common overuse injuries in sport

Professional sports players spend hours training and practising certain movements and actions every day; consequently, overuse injuries are common in sport. Some of the most common injuries are outlined below:

  • Tennis elbow: this condition affects the tendons on the outer side of the elbow and is caused by actions which repeatedly stretch the tendons. This condition is the most common cause of pain in the elbow. This injury is common in those who play racquet sports and fencers. Symptoms include pain in the elbow and arm, which may become heightened during lifting.
  • Golfer’s elbow: this condition is similar to tennis elbow and has the same symptoms; however, it affects the inner side of the elbow, rather than the outer.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS): this is an injury which is caused by inflammation of the iliotibial band, which is a band of muscle that runs down the outer side of the leg. Symptoms include pain in the knee and restricted movement. Long distance runners are prone to this condition.
  • Stress fractures: stress fractures are caused by actions which consistently put pressure on a certain bone; these are most commonly found in the foot and shin bones. Symptoms usually include prolonged pain, which becomes more intense during physical activity. These injuries are common in long distance runners and those who compete in jumping events.
  • Shin splits (periostitis): this condition causes pain in the shins during movement; it is common and not restricted to sports players. Sports players who increase the duration of their training commonly suffer with shin splits and long distance runners are also susceptible to the condition. Treatment usually involves rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. Shin splints may be prevented by warming up and cooling down thoroughly and wearing appropriate, supportive footwear.

Treating overuse injuries

Generally, the only cure for overuse injuries is rest. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication may help to reduce swelling and physiotherapy may help to improve movement and flexibility around the affected joint. It is important to rest between activities as this given the muscles and connective tissue time to heal and recover.

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