Avoid unwanted overuse injuries

As we are coming into spring, and the weather is finally getting nicer, many of you may find yourself compelled to pick up running, cycling, or any other activities commonly enjoyed outdoors. If you are just getting started with a new exercise program or even adding volume or intensity to 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. Fortunately, most overuse injuries are avoidable. The following guidelines can help prevent you from becoming sidelined from you current fitness endeavors.

Correct muscle imbalances. You may need to correct current imbalances in flexibility and strength. If you've had a previous injury, you may need to restore range of motion, muscle strength, and stability. A physical therapist or corrective exercise specialist can help you pin point any muscle imbalances you may have.

Use proper form. 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 and/or get properly fitted to your equipment.

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.

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