Overuse injury: How to prevent training injuries

Overuse injury can happen when you try to take on too much physical activity too quickly. Understand how to pace yourself while getting fit. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Thinking of starting a new physical activity program or ramping up your current training routine? If so, you may be at risk of an overuse injury — which could ultimately prevent you from being active. Find out what can cause an overuse injury and how to safely increase your activity level.

Common causes of overuse injury

An overuse injury is any type of muscle or joint injury, such as tendinitis or a stress fracture, that's caused by repetitive trauma. An overuse injury typically stems from:

  • Training errors. Training errors can occur when you enthusiastically take on too much physical activity too quickly. Going too fast, exercising for too long or simply doing too much of one type of activity can strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury.
  • Technique errors. Improper technique can also take its toll on your body. If you use poor form as you do a set of strength training exercises, swing a golf club or throw a baseball, for example, you may overload certain muscles and cause an overuse injury.

Risk factors for overuse injury

Although an overuse injury can happen to anyone, you may be more prone to this type of injury if you have certain medical conditions. Overuse injuries are also more likely to occur as you get older — especially if you don't recognize the impact aging can have on your body and modify your routine accordingly.

For these reasons, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new activity or ramping up your current routine. Your doctor may offer tips to help make physical activity safer for you. If you have a muscle weakness in your hip, for example, your doctor may show you exercises to address the problem and prevent knee pain.

Mar. 05, 2013 See more In-depth