Prevent Workout Disruptions Caused by Overuse Injuries
Overuse injuries are a common occurrence. However, unlike a sprained wrist or a broken bone, which causes pain on the spot and can usually be traced back to a particular incident, overuse injuries are more subtle. This can make them easier to overlook, particularly in the early stages.
But that doesn't mean you can ignore the warning signs.
What is an overuse injury?
Overuse injuries occur when muscles or joints are subjected to excessive stress due to an activity's load, frequency, or repetitiveness. These injuries can lead to irritation, weakness, and persistent pain and may even cause maladaptive behaviors that are difficult to unlearn.
The most common types of overuse injuries include bursitis, which is inflammation in the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints; tendonitis, which is irritation and inflammation in a tendon that connects muscle to bone; and stress fractures, which are tiny cracks that form in bones, usually in weight-bearing bones in the lower leg and foot.
It is essential to seek medical attention from your rehab doctor or prosthetist if any of these injuries develop, especially if you experience persistent pain localized to a joint or muscle. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to severe consequences, such as Ischial bursitis or sound-side Achilles tendon rupture, which usually requires surgery.
Overuse injuries can occur anywhere in the body, but they are most common in the joints used the most, such as the shoulders, elbows, back, hips, knees, legs, feet, and heels. To avoid overuse injuries, knowing the exercise mistakes that can cause them is essential. Below, we explore some of these exercise mistakes. Being mindful of these potential pitfalls can help prevent injuries and stay healthy during your fitness journey or when using assistive devices like crutches.
Be patient with your progress
Amputees often experience discomfort or strain when they push their bodies to do more than what they are used to. This may include walking longer distances with a new prosthesis or trying out a more challenging activity too soon. While it is great to challenge yourself and aim for greater mobility or strength, it is important to do so gradually and safely to avoid undue stress on your residual limb.
To avoid complications and ensure a more comfortable adaptation period, follow the 10% rule. This means you should aim to increase your activity level or intensity by at most 10% each week. By taking a measured approach, you can minimize potential problems and ensure a safe and healthy recovery.
Assume the correct form
When it comes to executing movements, especially powerful or repetitive ones, amputees need to be mindful of using proper techniques to prevent undue strain or discomfort.
The correct form can vary depending on the activity and the individual's prosthetic setup, but there are some common errors to watch out for. Some prevalent missteps include straining the neck, hunching or arching the back, failing to engage the core, and allowing your prosthetic alignment to shift or wearing worn-out footwear.
Whether you're new to a prosthetic limb or have years of experience, it is important to be aware of these potential pitfalls and actively work to avoid them to achieve optimal functionality and comfort.
Schedule active recovery time
It's easy to keep going with your workouts, especially when you're seeing progress. However, allowing your body to recover after intense workouts is also crucial. Failure to do so can lead to overtraining, which reduces your physical performance and leads to overuse injuries. However, recovery doesn't necessarily mean complete rest. This is where the concept of active recovery comes in.
Active recovery refers to light activities that help prevent muscle soreness without putting your body under intense stress. Some examples of such activities include biking, light bodyweight exercises, Pilates, stretching, swimming, walking, and yoga.
Keep a healthy lifestyle
Keeping a healthy lifestyle means ensuring that you have your health pillars covered. This means getting enough sleep, nutrition, and proper hydration. This is because inadequate sleep and hydration can lead to poor physical performance, which increases your risk of developing overuse injuries.
Moreover, consuming nutrient-rich foods is essential to fortify your body. Without proper nutrition, your body won't be able to perform or recover effectively.
Respect your body
Adjusting your workout routine depending on your circumstances and age is important. As you age, your body needs more time to recover after a procedure (such as limb loss); the cartilage and tendons in your joints become less resilient, making them more prone to stretching and tearing with less stress.
If you have arthritis or any other medical condition, it's crucial to consider that when planning your workouts. While overuse doesn't cause arthritis, it can exacerbate the symptoms. Therefore, be mindful of your body's limitations and adjust your workout routine accordingly.