Athletes and Overuse Injuries

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about sports related overuse injuries.

What are the risk factors for overuse injuries?

Dr. Jon Sulentic discusses the risk factors for sports overuse injuries. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What are the risk factors for overuse injuries?

Overuse injuries in the youth have multiple contributing factors but the primary ones are related to typically training errors, and so training volume, training intensity and inadequate recovery time is really the core. Each individual sport has its bio-mechanical problems and the emphasis on high volume training in the throwing athlete, for example, clearly is the risk that puts them on the injury list. In the older person, however, there's many more physiological changes that are more the core explanation for the overuse.

Certainly, training error still plays a role but there are adaptations that are occurring at the cellular level of those anatomy that put them at greater risk. I often use, when I'm talking with patients, the analogy of an old rubber band. You pull an old rubber band out of a drawer and you pull it once and it could snap and break. You take a young person, which is the fresh rubber band that was just made, they can snap back over and over and over again. The sheer fact that our tissue, even though we might emotionally and mentally feel that we're 22, when we're 55, those anatomy don't adapt to the same training demands that you did at a younger age. Intrinsically, those things are changing.

Our society is moving towards keeping people active, and the venues for them to be at elite levels for their age are out there, and so the counseling of folks to modify how they go about their training are equally as important as their training because we all know, a good athlete or an excellent athlete that's injured is just an average athlete.

   

Overuse injuries in the young have multiple contributing factors, but the primary ones are related to the amount of training volume, training intensity and inadequate recovery time. Each individual sport has its biomechanical problems, and the emphasis on high volume training in the throwing athlete, for example, is the risk that puts them on the injury list. In an older person, however, there are many more physiological changes that contribute to the overuse.

Training errors still play a role in older athletes, but there are changes occurring at the cellular level that put them at greater risk. I often use the analogy of an old rubber band when I'm talking with patients. You pull an old rubber band out of a drawer and you pull it once and it could snap and break. You take a young person, who is akin to a fresh rubber band, and they can snap back over and over and over again. Even though we might emotionally and mentally feel that we're 22, when we're 55, our bodies don't adapt to the same training demands that they did at a younger age.

Our society is moving towards keeping people active, and now we have training venues for young athletes to be at elite levels. So we counsel folks to modify how they go about their training and that is equally as important as the training itself. A good athlete or an excellent athlete who is injured is just an average athlete.

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Source: Jeffrey James, DO, Jon Sulentic, DO, Premier Orthopedics; Justin Perkins, Premier Health athletic trainer; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases