Staying physically active is essential to maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic conditions; however, over-exercising can lead to injury and mobility loss.
What is an overuse injury?
Exercise is one of the healthiest choices you can make. People of all ages need regular physical activity for overall health and disease prevention, but it is important to exercise safely.
Over-exercising and poor form can cause tenderness and pain. An overuse injury occurs when bones, muscles, ligaments or tendons are continually stressed and do not have time to rest. Although there are many types of overuse injuries, some are quite common.
Runner’s knee develops when muscle tightness pulls the kneecap in the wrong direction and causes friction between the kneecap and the bone behind it. If you do not stretch your hamstrings, hip flexors or IT band, you could be at risk for runner’s knee. Some symptoms of runner’s knee include dull pain and weakness in the kneecap.
You can prevent runner’s knee by proper stretching before and after activities like running and biking. Strengthening the quadriceps can also keep the knee in alignment and prevent injury.
Iliotibial band syndrome, or ITBS, is one of the most common overuse injuries of the leg. The iliotibial band is a tendon that goes from the hip to just below the knee. ITBS can take a long time to heal, often one to two months.
You can prevent ITBS by stretching the IT band before and after exercise and wearing athletic shoes with good support.
The plantar fascia joins the toes to the heel bone and provides support to the foot arch. Similar to shin splints, plantar fasciitis develops from tight calf muscles. Weakness in the knees, hips or ankles can also cause plantar fasciitis, as well as limited mobility of the big toe. This condition can cause inflammation and pain in the heel area. The best way to prevent this condition is to wear shoes that allow you to fully extend your big toe at the joint.
Symptoms of overuse injuries
Anyone can develop an overuse injury, but senior adults are affected the most. As we age, tendons and ligaments lose elasticity and joints become less lubricated. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call an orthopedist:
- Pain during or after exercise
- Shooting pain, burning or aching
- Weakness in the limbs
- Difficulty sleeping because of pain
- Pain with daily activities like cooking, climbing stairs or doing yard work
Visit an orthopedist to treat overuse injuries.
Don’t wait for your pain to subside before calling to make an appointment. Your doctor can advise you on whether your injury is caused by overuse or improper exercise techniques. You may be able to make modifications to your daily activities to bring healing and restore full mobility.
Sometimes it is necessary to have an orthopedic procedure to get relief from your symptoms. If you need to schedule surgery, consider an ambulatory surgery center (ASC). ASCs are a wise option because they provide high-quality patient care in a comfortable setting at a reduced cost. Ask your orthopedist about scheduling your orthopedic procedure.