How to prevent overuse injuries

What to do about that injury that keeps cropping up

Health Advisor

19 February 2018


Overdoing it: When you take on too much physical activity too quickly, you can hurt yourself. Pushing too hard too soon or simply doing too much of one type of physical activity can strain your body and lead to an overuse injury.

Bad technique: Poor technique can take its toll, compensating for muscular weakness or performing an exercise improperly can wreak havoc on your body.

Not giving yourself enough rest and restoration time: After we exercise we need time to heal. You know that burning sensation that you get a day or two after the gym? Well that’s DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS isn’t a bad thing, it is actually helping your body to grow stronger; after an intense exercise period, such as running a marathon, your body rebuilds muscle fibres, knitting them to make stronger muscles. 

This process usually occurs 24-48 hours after exercise and pushing through without giving this allotted time to recover will put added strain on your body and could potentially lead to muscle tearing rather than more strength.

Lack of variety: If we focus all of our energy into one kind of exercise or sport then we are only focusing on developing in one muscle group. While this can be a frustrating one if you are particularly passionate about doing a certain type of physical activity, if you don’t build strength and flexibility evenly throughout the body then imbalances will definitely crop up.

7 tips to avoid overuse injuries:

1) Get checked out before starting new endeavours 

It’s always a good idea to get yourself checked over before embarking on a new physical activity. It is possible that you may have muscular imbalances or medical conditions that can make you more predisposed to developing an overuse injury.

2) Go slow, learn fast! 

If you want to progress, run that extra mile, lift that heavier weight then the way to go is slow! If you jump into the heaviest weight you can lift without doing any prep or strength training to build up beforehand you’ll definitely be more likely to do yourself more harm than good! If your body begins to feel fatigued, or pain, or an old injury begins to flare up hold back rather than push through.

3) Consider using a personal trainer

Using the correct technique is crucial to preventing overuse injuries. If you have muscular imbalances due to shortfalls in flexibility and strength from inactivity or a previous injury, a good, certified personal trainer can help you begin a new, safe exercise regimen. If you have weak hips, for example, your trainer can show you exercises to address the problem and prevent knee pain.

4) Modify exercises if you need to

If you find a particular exercise a little bit difficult or straining on your body modifications are a great alternative that offer a more suitable position for your level. As I mentioned above poor technique is one cause of overuse injury, so rather than forcing your body up to a level that it’s not quite ready for, try some modifications instead – you might even find that you progress faster this way!

5) Drop comparisons

Stop judging yourself and stop judging others – stop judging period! Ever been in an exercise class or at the gym and there is that perfectly formed athlete who can do absolutely everything with seemingly little effort and ease? Don’t compare yourself to them, that’s their practice, focus on you and your practice! 

Don’t compare yourself to yesterday’s exercise session either, or the session before that because we do different things day to day and week to week. You might be feeling more up for an intense session today, or you might have had a rough week and need to hold back a little, that’s fine too. You don’t need to best yourself or anyone else, focus on how you feel TODAY and let your body be an indicator of how far you should take your exercise.

6) Please, please, please warm-up!

Exercising with cold muscles is asking for trouble! So many people dive straight into the most intense variety of their exercise they can without properly preparing their body. Cold muscles are much more prone to injury than those that are warmed up and ready to go. 

A cold muscle is less elastic than a warm one because the blood vessels are constricted, this reduction in circulation makes the muscles less pliable to strenuous movement and can therefore more likely to result in a muscle sprain, pain or strain! Not sure how to warm up efficiently? Check out our simple warm up routine that can be used before any type of exercise with our easy to follow demonstration videos.

7) Recovery time

After taking part in strenuous exercise, your body needs time to recover. Recovery time is not only important for preventing injury but also if you want to progress in strength, stamina or flexibility. Recovery time allows your body to replenish its energy stores and repair damaged tissues. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should pass on all movement until you feel ready and able to exercise again, but if you experience muscle pain such as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) it is definitely your body’s way of indicating that you should back off a little rather than push through. 

Going for a hot bath after exercising is the perfect way to soothe achy muscles after an intense exercise session. Or, you could always apply our topical pain relief gel Atrogel to help provide you some relief from the aches and pains.

What to do if you think you have an overuse injury

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, injuries can still crop up and interfere with our active life. Check out my blog for how best to recover from an overuse injury which contains some handy tips as well as information about where the source of your injury could be coming from (hint: it’s not always the area that’s sore is the culprit of the problem!). 

A.Vogel Atrogel Muscle Aches & Pains


£ 7.50

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Arnica gel for relief of muscle pains, stiffness, sprains and bruising. 100ml size available.
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As the A.Vogel Muscles and Joints advisor, I recommend Atrogel® Arnica gel to ease stiff, sore muscles after exercise.

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