…it’s the way that you do it.
Poor technique in terms of your activity levels is a major cause of overuse injuries. More specifically doing too much, too soon, too hard for your body is where the problem often lies. It refers to doing too much, increasing the amount you are doing too quickly and using too much force when you are doing the activity. This is because the body’s tissues need to adapt to the stresses that an activity causes by remodelling and if there is not enough recovery time then over a period of time microtears in the tissues accumulate and lead to an overuse injury.
Another way of expressing this is to say that if you increase the duration, frequency or intensity of an activity too quickly then you may become injured. Another person may not become injured because we all have different bodies and risk factors for injury. If you increase more than one of these factors (duration, frequency and intensity) then you are proportionately increasing your risk of injury.
An increase in any of the above factors can easily happen when you change not just a training or remedial routine but your life routine, e.g.when you move house or to a different job.
Poor or inappropriate equipment
With almost any injury some aspect of the equipment can be pointed to as a possible cause. To avoid equipment contributing to an injury, it is necessary to meet the following criteria; i) use the right equipment for the task, ii) use the equipment in the right way, which may involve undertaking training iii) have the equipment set up for your particular body, among other things to minimise effort and strain. It should be your priority to spend enough money and time to meet the criteria because it is wise never to cut corners or try to save money on the quality of equipment. For example, if you use a computer then make sure you have a good mouse and that the screen is set up at the right distance and height or if you run make sure that you have the right kind of running shoes in the right size for your foot type and the surface you are running on.
Even if you use the best equipment, have training and have it set up for you if using this equipment is not right for your body then you will be injured anyway. Sometimes it is better not to use any equipment and not undertake the task because the equipment may be fundamentally dangerous….for you – within this category from my own experience I would include voice recognition software and insoles. There are probably many other examples, including some obvious ones such as using guns, maybe skateboarding and activities where training is not available.
Posture (this section is under construction).
I think that ‘too hard’ could also be taken to cover wrong form such as sitting in the wrong posture because poor posture increases the amount of force that your body is subject to.
Poor or no training
You need to be properly trained in the most ergonomic technique to undertake whatever activity you are doing, whether it is a sport, playing a musical instrument or undertaking remedial exercises. Unfortunately being self-taught is not always a good thing and it is generally better to find a ‘really good’ teacher who knows about technique. Some of the best teachers are ones who have learned the hard way through injury and understand how crucial technique is.
Inadequate conditioning is loosely related to poor technique in the sense that it is something that you have control over. As well as poor muscle strength, two crucial factors are excessive muscle tightness and poor hip and core strength.
A tight muscle has to pull harder through the tendon possibly leading to tendon rupture. Tendons often rupture during eccentric loading (e.g. the biceps muscle helping to straighten a bent forearm) because forces are pulling in opposite directions. Core strength is important for the stability of the limbs which reduces your susceptibility to limb injury.