Armstrong Podiatry & Sports Health's Blog

Information that promotes wellness

Overuse Injuries: An Introduction

Injuries have always played a part in any physical fitness activity.  That sore shoulder after playing softball during the summer or that painful heel after running twelve miles during the weekend are prime examples of injuries.  These injuries can be due to a number of factors:  training mistakes (“doing too much too soon”), muscle-tendon imbalances, improper shoegear, abnormal biomechanics (the functional motion of the body), anatomic malalignment and nutritional factors, to name a few.  With the continuous presentation of any or all of these factors upon the body in explosive (throwing a ball) or repetitive (running long distance) activities, anyone can and will get injured

How does this happen?  All these factors lead to a wear and tear of the body’s tendons (fibers which connect muscle to bone), ligaments (fibers which connect bone to bone at a joint), muscle, skin, bones, fascia and joints from the explosive and repetitive nature of the body’s motion.  By applying these forces upon the body, the body reacts by breaking down.  Let’s take the classic model of an unfolded paper clip.

By bending the paper clip back and forth upon itself, you are applying a loading  and unloading force upon it.  This can be seen in individuals that has “soreness” in the shoulder, foot, etc., after an activity.  If you continue  to apply the same force ad infinitum, eventually the paper clip will break apart.  This is when the injuries are called, “overuse injuries”.

The breakdown of the body is seen by the process of inflammation, a complex response defined by pain, redness, swelling, heat and lack of function.  Initially, the inflammation is acute with increasing signs of these characteristics, but with overuse injuries, the inflammation is chronic or longstanding.  Why?  Acute inflammation usually takes about two to three weeks before the pain, swelling, etc., disappears, but in overuse injuries, the inflammation is still present, but not as obvious as the acute variety.  Chronic inflammation leads to a weakening and/or destruction of tendons, ligaments or bones.  This is mostly seen as scarring in the soft tissue, making it more prone to reinjury.  That is why it is so important to rest any injury in the acute phase, before it becomes detrimental to overall health and fitness.  And furthermore, it can avoid THAT visit to the doctor!  It is the chronic inflammatory injuries that I specialize in, and will discuss treatment plans and modalities, along with preventative measures in future entries.  that may be of benefit to any injured individual, primarily in the foot and ankle.  Of course, the best way to get treatment for your condition is to see a medical professional!  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at

Happiness and good health!

January 21, 2009 - Posted by | Overuse injuries

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