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Health & Fitness: Avoiding Overuse Injuries

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Recently, a 30-day squat challenge came across one of my emails. It was a challenge so unrealistic and dangerous that the group sponsoring it appalled me.

Basically, you start on Day 1 with 50 squats. Each day you add 5 more with periodic rest days and ultimately you end your challenge with 250 squats! Of course, all you get is a picture of some fitness model sitting in a squat. There are no instructions about warming up or proper form like engaging your core and breathing etc. So here is what I see as a fitness professional—OVERUSE INJURY.

This is not the only challenge I have seen recently that screams,“Come on, let’s shred your muscles, LITERALLY!” Push-up challenges, crunch challenges — I train folks six days a week and even my most seasoned athletes get lazy with their form.

Plus, training one part of your body goes against every rule in the fitness industry.

What Causes Overuse Injuries?

• Lack of appropriate muscle strength or endurance

• Poor core stability

• Muscle imbalance (strong tight muscles versus weak stretched muscles)

• Inflexibility

• Misalignment or biomechanical issues (e.g. flat foot, squinting patellae)

• Training errors

• Faulty technique

• Incorrect equipment

By far the most common cause of overuse injury is training errors.  Moreover, the most common error is “too much, too soon.”

Some athletes mistakenly think more exercise is better, and they fail to get adequate rest. This can lead to a chronic, overuse injury. This is also common in advanced exercisers who suddenly increase their time or intensity in an abrupt manner (often while training for an event).

Doing the same exercise day after day is another way to end up with an overuse injury. Stressing the same muscle groups and performing the same movement patterns repeatedly can put a tremendous amount of strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments, causing irritation, inflammation and even stress fractures. Even if you successfully avoid an overuse injury, you may end up with muscle imbalance, weakness, tightness and alignment problems.

So, next time you see a fitness challenge that builds repetitions into the triple digits, just know that it’s not for you. Instead, remember that your body needs balance. It needs to be trained front to back and side to side. Stay in one dimension and you will not enjoy the results.

To avoid these problems, vary your exercise training routine and workout with a professional. Do a variety of different types of exercise and cross train. If you feel an injury coming on, speak up— typically a trainer can modify exercises to fit your fitness level.

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