Avoiding New Year ‘overuse’ injuries

Technique Regional Lead Lucas Taylor talks through some of the injuries we see at the start of the year, and how you can adjust your training to minimise risk.  

Injuries that we see in the New Year can be generally grouped into the umbrella term of ‘Overuse’.

Every January, we often see a large increase in motivation to be active. As a result, people push themselves physically on a far more frequent basis and in a very small window of recovery.

Prevention of injuries is difficult, although we can significantly reduce the risk of injury occurring.

Being physically active in the long term has a huge benefit on muscle strength, tendon elasticity, bone health and much more. What isn’t quite as well known is that exercise creates small levels of micro-trauma to these structures that requires a short period of recovery to become stronger and more resilient. Therefore you can put yourself at risk of injury if not given sufficient rest.

Prevention of overuse injuries

Let’s look at some of the most accessible activities and talk through them: the gym and running.

Tips for the gym
Your workout routine and having variety here is key. For example, if every time you go to the gym you perform the same weight training exercises, straining the same muscle groups and therefore tendons and joints, performing that frequently over the space of a few days will increase the risk of injury.

Splitting your body parts into separate days reduces this lack of variety and allows different muscle groups to be trained and stressed. An example of this may be to split into upper and lower body days or push/ pull/ legs, where there is the ability to rest and recovery previously exerted muscle groups for example.

Tips for running

Cross-training your running with other cardiovascular exercises or weight training not only can reduce risk of injury but also improve performance. Being physically stronger and able to exert force will benefit running economy and improve times and mileages. With regards to injury prevention, changing activity with cross-training techniques reduces the risk injury from repetitive impact and fatigue in certain muscle groups. Cycling and rowing are great alternatives that require endurance from different muscle groups that still can benefit running performance.

The importance of tracking 

Track everything you do with your chosen sport/activity. If you can track your sessions and track your increments, you will be able to ensure your rate of progression and the frequency/volume/ duration is not excessive.

If we are to try and reduce risk of injury, listening to our bodies is important but not the most proven way. Tracking sleep and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) are much more evidenced methods that have high value in determining how ready you are for an intense session.

HRV is a simple tool that can be used and tracked easily using smart watches. It is a complex process but can be understood simply. When you have a low value to your HRV, it suggests that your body is still in a state of recovery and not ready for an intense bout of exercise. When the HRV value is high, you are ready to take on a more demanding activity.

The importance of extra sleep 

Everybody knows sleep is important. This is the time in the day for your body to recover, build, develop and learn motor pathways that make exercises/movements more efficient. 8 hours of sleep is the recommended amount for most, but making a conscious effort to increase sleep more so than your normal is still beneficial. Again, smart watches and apps make this easy to track.

Our final tips for avoiding injuries

Tip 1: Use technology to your advantage. Use specific apps to your hobby/activity. They have been created more likely than not by people in the field who have a great understanding to make things easier for those just starting out. There are so many exercise plans, running programs and much more available for free online. Use trusted and respectable resources that are well reviewed and stick to it, don’t’ go off on your own tangent.

Tip 2: See if you can go with a friend/buddy. One it will be a lot more enjoyable for yourself and it will add accountability to your goals. Within certain environments it will also allow you to have someone to critique technique when needed and prevent technique from increasing risk of injury (if you have a good friend!).

Tip 3: As well as rest, fuel yourself well. Providing your body with the right nutrition is key to maximising output and seeing the results you want over time. Being poorly fuelled and low on energy will directly put you at higher risk of injury/the body breaking down during exercise.

Get in touch for further advice

If you have any questions about your exercise regime or would like help getting back to peak physical fitness, get in touch with our team at info@techniquehealth.org.