What is overuse injury?

Overuse injury can occur when too much activity is performed too quickly with not enough rest and recovery. This is a condition that is especially common in ambitious active individuals who perform training errors.  

What are the common causes of overuse injury?

An overuse injury is any type of muscle or joint injury, such as tendinitis or a stress fracture, or postural syndrome that's caused by repetitive trauma. An overuse injury typically stems from:
  • Training errors. There are many decisions to be made when training and developing your physical fitness. Training errors can occur when you enthusiastically take on too much physical activity too quickly, when you do not have enough recovery in between sessions, and when you perform activity and movements that you are not physically prepared to do yet. There are many decisions to make ongoing when it comes to physical development and there is no one program and progress that will suite everyone. Going too fast, exercising for too long or simply doing too much of one type of physical activity can strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury.
  • Technique errors. Improper technique can also take its toll on your body. If you use poor form as you do a set of strength training exercises, swing a golf club or throw a baseball, for example, you may overload certain muscles and cause an overuse injury.
  • Equipment or Shoe Problems. Poor shoes and or worn out shoes can cause abnormal forces through your feet and into your lower extremity. That in addition to uneven and hard surfaces can cause overuse injury.
  • Progression errors
  • Choice of activity errors. What is the best exercise for you depends on your current physical and functional state.

What can physiotherapy and massage therapy do for overuse injury?

What your Physiotherapist and Massage Therapist can do for overuse injuries?

Your physiotherapist performs an orthopaedic examination as well as a functional movement screen to determine your physical profile and then determines targets and a program to bridge the gap and get you where you need to be.   Although an overuse injury can happen to anyone, you may be more prone to overuse injuries if you have certain medical conditions. Overuse injuries are also more likely to occur as you get older — especially if you don't recognize the impact aging can have on your body and modify your routine accordingly.   If you thinking of starting a new physical activity program or ramping up your current training program, you may be at risk of an overuse injury — which could ultimately prevent you from being active. Find out what can cause an overuse injury and how to safely increase your activity level.


Manual Physiotherapy

Manual physiotherapists are educated in the anatomical and pathological sciences and understand the biomechanics of human movement. Overuse injuries require an assessment by a health care provider to determine the structure and or position or movement mechanics that may be responsible for the injury. Your physiotherapist and your doctor can help determine the source of the problem. As part of this process, your physiotherapist will make recommendations that are related to the anatomy and biomechanics of movements. There may be exercises, activities, and positions that are adding to the problem and aggravating the inflammation. These may have to be modified or stopped until your nerve settles down. The sports medicine approach to physiotherapy is to modify or replace rather than stop completely and this is accomplish by a thorough interview and examination to determine the causal roots.    

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is very effective in helping repetitive strains and or overuse injuries related to soft tissue injury. Myofascial and gentle Swedish massage techniques are used during the acute phase and then progressing to deep tissue, Swedish massage and trigger point techniques. During either stage the focus is to release and decrease tone and spasm in the musculature of the affected muscles.    

How can exercise and physical development help after overuse injury?

The health and fitness industry can be overwhelming to the reader with information on training, fitness, nutrition, and rehabilitation.  In the face of this information, seeking sound advice from a health care provider will help you make intelligent choices with regard to training, recondition, and rehabilitation.


The Kinetic Chain

Our body functions best and with minimal stress when it is in optimal alignment and posture. Proper structural correction is achieved with proper footwear and support. Proper functional mechanics requires skill development and neuromuscular training and is the science of motor learning. The kinetic chain is a integrated functional unit of systems that work interdependently to allow structural and functional efficiency. It is made of the soft tissue system (muscle, ligament, tendon, and fascia), the Neural system ( peripheral nervous system of nerves and the central nervous system or brain), and the Articular system (joints). If any of these systems do not work efficiently, compensations and adaptations may occur in the other systems. A dysfunction in the kinetic chain leads to decreased performance and predictable patterns of injury.  Imbalances may result from postural stress, a pattern of overload, repetitive movement, a lack of core stability, and a lack of neuromuscular efficiency. All functional movement patterns involve deceleration, stabilization and acceleration, which occur at every joint in the kinetic chain and in all planes of motion at varying speeds.   Optimum posture and alignment provides optimal structural and functional efficiency to the kinetic chain. If one component is out of alignment, it creates predictable patterns of tissue overload and dysfunction, leads to decreased neuromuscular control and initiates the cumulative injury cycle. Muscle imbalance leads to abnormal neuromuscular control leads to overloaded tissue and tissue fatigue which leads to inflammation and eventually leads to tissue trauma or injury. The most common patterns of compensation are the Pronation Pattern of the lower body and the Forward Head Pattern of the upper body and these two patterns are the focus of our screen examination and our subsequent corrective preventative exercise plan. Identification of biomechanical imbalances in a way that is specifically related to the multi planner movements and that involves acceleration, deceleration, stabilization and occurs at multiple speeds in those specific body positions and posture activities of daily living.  Assessment of the muscular system (functional anatomy) the articular system (functional biomechanics) and the neural system (motor behavior) becomes important in the prevention and treatment of overuse injuries and repetitive strains. In order to live a healthy and active lifestyle, one has to train their body the way it moves during daily functional movements.


Exercise and Physical Development

The final step is to establish a personal improvement health plan to continue to develop physically throughout your life. This is especially necessary after injury or an accident when you have become deconditioned. All of our staff have a combination of health sciences and sports sciences training, having dual training in both kinesiology and physiotherapy and allowing us to provide a biomechanical focus. Once you have recovered from your painful overuse injury, our therapists will perform a functional movement screen, a kinetic chain assessment, and analysis to identify individual muscle and joint imbalances that are unique to your inherited structure, to your movement patterns, and to your goals and interests in living a healthy physical life. We develop a individualized program that focus on:
  •  Your specific imbalances and movement patterns at work, home, and those evident during the activities that you participate in.
  • You structural and genetic posture and alignment characterizes and how they affect your interests to do activity etc.
  • We look at the ergonomics specific to your workplace and home

How can low intensity laser therapy help overuse injury?

Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) is the use of monochromatic light. Meditech Bioflex has been producing this technology for 20 years and has an extensive in house clinical lab.   The light source is placed in contact with the skin allowing the photon energy to penetrate tissue, where it interacts with various intracellular biomolecules resulting in the restoration of normal cell morphology and function. This process also enhances the body's natural healing propensities.   Low Intensity Laser Therapy does not heat or cut tissue. Unlike many pharmacological treatments that mask pain or only address the symptoms of the disease, Laser Therapy treats the underlying condition or pathology to promote healing. The technology utilizes superluminous laser diodes to irradiate diseased or traumatized tissue with photons. These particles of energy are selectively absorbed by the cell membrane and intracellular molecules, resulting in the initiation of a cascade of complex physiological reactions, leading to the restoration of normal cell structure and function.   The process is curative and therefore results in the elimination of symptoms including pain. In addition, it enhances the body’s immune system response and facilitates natural healing. The therapy is completely safe and has no adverse side effects. The technology is highly effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, arthritis, sports injuries, wound healing and a wide range of dermatological conditions. Whiplash injury typically involves injury to muscles, ligaments, and joints and typically involve several levels and a more wide spread area of injury due to the force full nature of the injury. Muscles of the neck, although short, cross over several joints and so the discomfort is generally more global initially. Laser therapy directed by multiple diodes are able to reach these tissues.    

Physiological effects of Low Intensity Laser Therapy

With LILT there is an increased production and release of:  
  • Endorphins which - natural analgesics
  • Cortisol – a precursor of cortisone
  • Growth hormone – instrumental in tissue repair
  • ATP – improves and regulates cellular metabolism
  • An increase in protein synthesis – collagen, DNA, fibroblasts
  • A facilitated venous and lymphatic flow
  • Increased angiogenesis – the elevation of oxygen saturation
  • Enhanced immune response
  These responses are some of the many processes that accelerate cellular regeneration (cartilage, epithelium) and restore normal cell morphology and function. Treatments are typically 25 minutes to over 1 hour depending on the condition and area being treated   The most popular technical / clinical information requested is available on the Meditech website under Laser Reports. You may visit the Meditech website research section directly for detailed abstracts, case profiles and articles on a variety of topics relating to the use of low intensity laser therapy in the treatment of various medical conditions.  

What life style and self-care measures can you do for yourself to relieve overuse injury?

Most overuse injuries are avoidable. To prevent an overuse injury:  
  • Address medical conditions. It's always a good idea to talk to your physiotherapist before starting a new type of physical activity — especially if you have a medical condition that may predispose you to an overuse injury. You may need to correct imbalances in flexibility and strength or, if you've had a previous injury, work to restore range of motion, muscle strength and stability. Your physiotherapist may offer tips to help make physical activity safe. If you have a muscle weakness in your hip, for example, your doctor may show you exercises to address the problem and prevent knee pain.
  • Develop a Personal Improvement Plan. Starting with an evaluation of your physical health - a musculoskeletal clinical examination, an Orthopaedic assessment, and a functional movement screen. A physiotherapy interpretation and analysis of these findings and physiotherapy diagnosis. Then the development of a personal improvement plan that is individualized to your assessment and that addresses your specific targets with the goal bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Plan for activity and Plan for recovery. Recovery strategies cannot be emphasized enough. Massage therapy, physiotherapy, laser therapy, cold, ice, recovery baths, nutrition, and rest is how your recover and get yourself ready for the next training session.
  • Use proper form and gear. Whether you're starting a new type of physical activity or you've been playing a sport for a long time, consider taking lessons. Using the correct technique is crucial to preventing overuse injuries. Also make sure you wear proper shoes for the activity. Consider replacing your shoes for every 300 miles you walk or run, or — if you regularly exercise — at least twice a year.
  • Pace yourself. If you're starting a new physical activity program, avoid becoming a weekend warrior. Compressing your physical activity for the week into two days can lead to an overuse injury. Instead, aim for at least two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week. Always take time to warm up before physical activity and cool down afterward. Also keep in mind that as you age, you may not be able to do the same activities that you did years ago. Consider ways to modify activities to suit your abilities.
  • Gradually increase your activity level. When changing your activity level or the amount of weight you're using while strength training, keep it gradual — such as increases of no more than 10 percent each week until you reach your new goal.
  • Mix up your routine. Instead of focusing on one type of exercise, consider combining two or more types of physical activity, also known as cross-training. Doing a variety of low-impact activities — such as walking, biking, swimming and water jogging — in moderation can help prevent overuse injuries by allowing your body to use different muscle groups. Strive to include aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, core stability and balance training elements in your routine.
  • Take care of yourself before it is too late. If you suspect that you have an overuse injury, consult your physiotherapist. He or she will assess you and provide you with a physiotherapy diagnosis. More important, make sure you discuss with your physiotherapist your physical activity program — including any recent changes in technique, intensity, duration, frequency or types of activity. Identifying the root cause of your overuse injury and ensuring that you're using the proper technique will help you correct the problem and avoid repeating it. When you think the overuse injury has healed, ask your physiotherapist to check that you've completely regained strength, motion, flexibility and balance before beginning the activity again.

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