Regular exercise is great for your heart, body, and mind, but you can get hurt if you’re doing it too much, especially without proper maintenance.
Overuse injuries can damage bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles from repetitive motions like running, lifting, cycling, etc. They come from issues like poor technique, doing too much or moving too fast, or not warming up or cooling down.
Here are a few common overuse injuries, what they feel like, and how to prevent them.
Runner’s Knee: This happens when the kneecap is pulled in the wrong direction by muscle tightness, causing the kneecap to rub over the bone behind it. The pulling is typically caused by tight hip flexors, hamstrings, or iliotibial band (ITB) muscles.
It creates a dull pain around the front of the knee and can be accompanied by rubbing, grinding, or clicking feelings in the joint.
To prevent runner’s knee, warm up and stretch your hamstrings, hip flexors, and ITB muscles before walking, running, and biking. You can also focus on strengthening quad muscles to promote proper knee alignment.
ITB Band Syndrome: The iliotibial band, or ITB, is a band of connective tissue that runs from the hips to just below the knee on the outside of the leg. When the load on it exceeds the strength, it can get tight and pull at the side of the knee.
The pain typically begins outside of the knee and builds during repetitive activity. It may be accompanied by clicking, popping, or snapping sensations.
Hip and core strengthening can help prevent ITB Band syndrome, as well as stretching ITB muscles and hamstrings to stay flexible.
Plantar Fasciitis: This injury is typically a result of tightness in the calf muscles. It may also be caused by improper footwear, limited mobility in the big toe, or weakness in the ankles, hips, and knees.
The plantar fascia connects the heel bone with the toes and supports the arch on the foot, and overuse can lead to pain and inflammation in the heel.
Proper footwear and maintaining flexibility in the foot by working if an ability to extend the big toe can help prevent the condition.
To give yourself the best shot at avoiding overuse injuries of any kind, be sure to warm up and cool down before and after exercise and spend some time stretching every day.