Injury can occur when a high load is applied a small number of times (e.g. fall off the top of a ladder) or a small load is applied numerous times (e.g. long distance running.) It is the latter that can lead to overuse injuries. Individual tolerance levels vary, meaning that some people can develop an overuse injury at smaller loads and less repetition than others.

The type of training you are doing is also hugely important. Certain activities involve loads that are variable in terms of direction of the load (e.g. tennis players continually change direction depending on where on the court the ball is in play.) Conversely runners tend to run in the same direction, repeating the same motion again and again, loading the same tissues with each step.

One factor that will influence your ability to tolerate your training regime and avoid an overuse injury is flexibility and this naturally reduces with age. You may have got away without paying enough attention to stretching when you were younger but you are unlikely to always get away with this! For example, one factor that can predispose runners to developing plantar fasciitis is inadequate flexibility of their calf muscles. Other factors which influence your tolerance include your biomechanics, muscles strength, training regime, training environment etc. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s knee) is a good example of this- as pain may occur due to a problem with the biomechanics of the foot, inadequate muscle strength (core, gluts and quads muscles), increasing the level of training too quickly or training on the wrong type of surface (e.g. running on a slope with one foot up and one foot down the slope.)

It is important if you develop an overuse injury that you observe “relative rest.” In other words, that you reduce the load on the injured tissue to a painfree level- through modification of your training regime and/or improving your biomechanics (tape/orthotics/specific exercises etc.) Don’t take complete rest and a wait and see approach! Such an approach does not address the underlying problem and just leads to loss of strength and fitness. At IONA Physiotherapy we can diagnose what the injury is, why it occurred and implement an effective treatment plan. Contact us at 01 7979545 for further details.

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