With Run Melbourne only 3 weeks away, here at Melbourne Osteopathy Sports Injury Centre, our team is hard at work keeping people moving in the right direction to meet their goals for this event. Many of the more common complaints rearing their head at this time in a runner’s build are those known as overuse injuries.
Overuse injuries occur at the musculotendinous junction – the area of muscle where it becomes tendinous and generally attaches to a bone. In most instances, overuse injuries affect tendons and occur when the load from exercise is too great for the body to adapt and repair in time for the next workout.
Exercise leads to stress on our joints and muscles, and normally the body is able to cope with this stress, the result being strength gains and improved fitness. This is the remodelling process or adaptation to exercise. When this equilibrium is interrupted, degeneration and micro tearing occurs and the body can no longer cope with the demands placed on the tissues which ultimately leads to injury.
The two main reasons we see a disruption to the normal adaptation phase are:
- A rapid acceleration of the intensity, duration, or frequency of activity. Eg. Too much too soon.
- A sudden spike in load when returning from injury (or a holiday) and trying to make up for lost time by pushing too hard in the early stages of training.
In addition to training routine, other causes of overuse injuries include:
- Lack of appropriate muscle strength or endurance.
- Poor core stability.
- Muscle imbalances.
- Malalignment or biomechanical issues.
- Poor technique.
- Incorrect equipment. Eg. Poor fitting footwear.
- Change in running surfaces. Eg. Bitumen vs trail running.
These type of injuries can be extremely frustrating. So how can you detect if you are on the slippery slope towards an over use injury? Being aware of your body is the most important starting point. Generally the first sign will be stiffness in the morning which disappears once you are warmed up.
Other signs of these conditions include:
- Warmth to touch.
- Redness and impaired function.
- Pain lasting beyond the warm up.
Treatment for overuse injuries typically involves decreasing the intensity, duration and frequency of the aggravating activity. It is also worth trialling a change in training methods and incorporating easy and hard training days or utilising cross training to maintain fitness. When changing your training program it is advised to contact a health professional to ensure you are getting the correct program for where your body is currently at. If you do not have access to a trainer, it helps to remember the 10 Percent Rule whenever you are thinking of increasing your training load. This rules states never to increase your training load by more than 10 percent per week. The aim is to allow sufficient time for the appropriate adaptation to take place.
This applies to distance, frequency and intensity of training. If in doubt speak to your Osteopath or therapist for further advice.
As with all injuries, prevention is always better than cure and a Remedial Massage or Osteopathic treatment can help alleviate muscle soreness and remove any dysfunctions caused by training and daily living that can lead to pain. Always remember to do a proper warm up and cool down before and after activity. Improving flexibility, strength and core stability will also help minimise overuse injuries. This will allow you to train more efficiently and ultimately produce a better result come race day.
So to avoid missing out on the winter fun run season, book your next consultation today and get on top of those niggles before they get on top of you.
Dr Catherine Allison is an experienced Osteopath and competitive triathlete. She has fantastic experience treating all sorts of sporting injuries and can assist you in maintaining a healthy balance in your training.