Overuse injury prevention

Prevention of overuse injury

The key points that I have learnt from my injuries are:

the opposite to doing ‘too much, too hard, too soon’ is to do the right amount at the right intensity at the right time. This is the way to avoid injury. Then if you are injured the challenge is to get the right diagnosis from a competent doctor and to rest and protect the injury in the correct way.

Prevention: ‘the right amount at the right intensity at the right time’;

‘the right amount’

– even what seem to be small changes to your routine can have a big impact if they mean that you are losing some of your recovery time.  The right amount of stress is not just determined by the amount of stress caused by a given activity but also other activities that stress that part of your body e.g. when I injured my left knee as well as doing balance board exercises I was using my knee differently because of having problems with my right knee so I wasn’t just doing one thing but two things differently.

‘at the right intensity’

Correct posture is crucial when doing activities – whether it is how you speak or how you type, or altering posture through something like a shoe raise.

‘at the right time’:

– when starting a new activity, start slowly.  Work out what your comfortable baseline of activity is then increase by about 10 percent per week up to a sensible maximum

The ten percent rule  This is the idea that you should only increase the amount you do something by ten percent per week.  For example, if you run you should only increase your distance by ten percent a week.  The cardinal error is to increase the amount you do something, reduce the recovery time and increase the intensity at the same time.  In the case of running this could translate as doubling your distance each week, increasing how fast you run and reducing your rest days.

Regrettably, however, though the ten percent rule is often quoted it is mired in controversy. Nevertheless, the basic principle that you should not increase an activity to quickly, is still sound and following the ten percent rule may be a good way of doing that.

  • Make sure that you spend enough money so that you have the right equipment and tools to do what you are doing.

Follow general guidelines for health promotion

Essentially, it is about maximising one’s overall state of health, and the three ways of doing this outside of specific medical intervention are adequate rest, diet and exercise.

  • Diet

Maintain a healthy balanced diet with an adequate number of calories

  • Sleep

The fatigue that poor quality sleep can cause can predispose to injury

  • Smoking

Stopping smoking can reduce the risk of injury in former smokers

  • Stress

This is a difficult one because exercise is recommended as an antidote to emotional stress, but emotional stress may also predispose to injury.  So exercising when under emotional stress may be counter productive sometimes. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands when we are under stress and too much cortisol can damage collagen, which is needed for tissue repair.