What are Overuse Injuries and How to Avoid Them

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An overuse injury occurs when muscle fibers get predisposed to injury when the same activity is performed, over and over, without any variation. Now, muscles are constantly changing and need to move in many directions to remain functional. Therefore, exercises or other activities should be performed in such a way as to avoid exposing muscle fibers to the same repetitive force.

Common Symptoms of Overuse Injuries

Some common symptoms of overuse include the following.

  1. Not being able to sleep well.
  2. Pain that is localized or widespread and which gets worse during movement.
  3. Aching or stiff body.
  4. Muscles that have been overworked or pulled.
  5. Muscles that twitch.
  6. A burning sensation in the muscles.
  7. Bone pain that is usually deep, penetrating, or dull and most likely resulting from an injury. However, it is important to be sure that the pain is not related to a fracture or tumor.
  8. Muscle pain that is often less intense than bone pain, but still debilitating. By the way, muscle pain can also be caused by an injury, an autoimmune reaction, loss of blood flow to the muscle, infection, or a tumor. In addition, the pain can also include muscle spasms or cramps.
  9. Next, tendon or ligament pain can also be caused by injuries, including sprains. Also, this type of musculoskeletal pain often becomes worse when the affected area is stretched or moved.
  10. Finally, joint injuries and diseases usually produce a stiff, aching, “arthritic” pain. Also, the pain can range from mild to severe and worsens when moving the joint. In addition, the joints may also swell. In fact, joint inflammation is a common cause of pain.

By the way, pain from overuse affects nearly 33 percent of adults. Furthermore, lower back pain from overuse is the most common work-related diagnosis in Western society.

Causes of Overuse Injuries

Most of all, training errors are the most common cause of overuse injuries. By the way, these errors involve rapid acceleration of the intensity, duration, or frequency of the exercise or activity.

Also, overuse injuries happen in people who are returning to a sport or activity after an injury. By and large, these injuries happen to those who try to make up for lost time. So, they push themselves to achieve the level of participation they were at before injury.

In addition, proper technique is critical in avoiding overuse injuries, as slight changes in form may trigger the injury.

Also, some people are more prone than others to overuse injuries. In fact, imbalances between strength and flexibility around certain joints predispose individuals to injury. In addition, body alignment, such as knock-knees, bowlegs, unequal leg lengths, and flat or high arched feet, also facilitate overuse injuries.

Moreover, many people also have weaknesses from old injuries, incompletely rehabilitated injuries, or other anatomic factors.

Finally, other factors include equipment, such as the type of running shoe or ballet shoe, and terrain. For example, aerobic dancing or running on a hard versus a soft surface.

Why do Overuse Injuries Occur?

Now, the human body has a tremendous capacity to adapt to physical stress. Indeed, physical stress, which is simply exercise and activity, is beneficial for our bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. In fact, physical stress makes them stronger and more functional. Moreover, during physical stress, the body invokes processes that both breakdown and buildup tissue. However, if the breakdown of tissue occurs more rapidly than the buildup, an overuse injury occurs.

Furthermore, improper warm up and cool down is one of the most common causes of muscle strains in an athletic individual.


  1. First, reduce the activity’s intensity, duration, and frequency.
  2. Second, change your workout schedule to include both hard and easy workouts.
  3. Also, cross train with other activities. For example, combining strength with cardio, balance, etc.
  4. In addition, bet feedback from a trainer about the right technique.
  5. Next, always have warm-up activities before and after the workout.
  6. Meanwhile, use ice or a hand massager after an activity for minor aches and pain.
  7. Finally, when necessary, use anti-inflammatory medications.


Most overuse injuries can be prevented with proper training and common sense. For example, learn to listen to your body. Moreover, don’t get carried away with the “no pain, no gain” slogan.

In the meantime, follow the ten percent rule to take things to the “next level”. By the way, the ten percent rule is that you should not increase your training activity more than 10 percent per week. Because, this allows your body adequate time to recover and respond to the increased load. Moreover, this rule applies to increasing pace or mileage for walkers and runners, as well as to the amount of weight added while strength training.

Meanwhile, always remember to warm up and cool down properly before and after activity. Incorporating strength training, increasing flexibility, and improving core stability will also help minimize overuse injuries.

Now, fibers in muscles are better able to do their job when they can expand and shorten. So, the better their motion, the less chance of injury. Spending 5 minutes before and after exercise to focus on stretching muscles and performing low intensity activities (like 25% of the weight you were just lifting) can help to prevent muscle strains from occurring.

Finally, modify your workout to maintain overall fitness levels in a safe manner while you recover from a injury.

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