Avoiding overuse injuries

If you are just getting started with a new exercise program or ramping up your current routine, you may be at risk for developing overuse injuries. An overuse injury is any type of muscle or joint injury, such as tendonitis or a stress fracture, that's caused by repetitive trauma. An overuse injury is usually caused by training or technique errors. Most overuse injuries are avoidable. The following guidelines can help prevent you from being sidelined from you current fitness goals.

Correct muscle imbalances - You may need to correct imbalances in flexibility and strength or, if you've had a previous injury, work to restore range of motion, muscle strength and stability.

Use proper form and gear - Using proper technique is crucial in preventing overuse injuries, if you are just getting started in a new sport you may want to take lessons. You should also consider new shoes at least twice a year.

Pace yourself - If you are just getting started, avoid becoming a weekend warrior. Instead of compressing your physical activity into one or two days, spread it out over the week. Always take time to warm up and cool down. Also consider your current activity and don't be afraid to modify any program to fit your current fitness level.

Gradually increase your activity level - When changing your activity level or the amount of weight you're using while strength training, keep it gradual. Keep increases of no more than 10 percent each week until you reach your new goal.

Mix up your routine - Combining different activities, or cross training, allows you to work different muscle groups while resting the others. Consider combining two or more exercises like running, walking, swimming, or biking.

Don't allow overuse injuries to prevent you from being physically active. By listening to your body and pacing yourself, you can avoid this common setback and safely increase your activity level.

Corinna Maggy is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. She can be reached by e-mail at corinna@adkbikeranch.com. The information contained within Health Matters is not a substitute for professional medical examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program or beginning any nutritional regimen.

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