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Avoiding Overuse Injuries In Sports And Exercise

Does your child have an intense game and practice schedule? Do you have a robust workout routine? If so, you or your child may be at risk for injuries due to overuse.

“Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive movement of the muscles, tendons and bones around a joint,” explained Evan Lederman, MD, chief of sports medicine for Banner Health. “Too much activity, an overly intensive training schedule, poor technique and lack of good equipment can all contribute to overuse injuries.”


People in poor physical condition are more prone to overuse injuries.  Repetitive work activities, improper training techniques and sports equipment that does not fit properly can also put you at greater risk.

The first step in preventing overuse injuries is to be sure you are training properly.  Warm up and stretch before physical activity.  Be sure you are using the proper equipment for your sport that fits your body.  And finally, build up your training program gradually.  This will allow your body to get stronger and adjust to the stress of physical activity.

Young athletes

Young athletes are at risk for overuse injuries because their muscles, tendons and bones are still growing. Their bodies need time to recover between activities in order to strengthen the tendons and muscles.

Dr. Lederman recommends young athletes get regular periods of rest and vary their workout schedules. “Younger athletes should not play one sport year-round,” he said. “The repetitive motion from one sport can cause serious injury over time.” For example, young pitchers should know their pitch counts and limit how often they pitch. Overpitching can cause serious injuries that could keep athletes off the field.

Adult athletes

Adults often get overuse injuries because they do not have a regular training schedule or are not in good physical condition. They can then overexert themselves and cause injury.  “We have less flexibility and strength as we age, even if we don’t want to admit it,” said Dr. Lederman. “Adults need to be careful about overdoing it and should listen to their bodies.” In other words, if you feel pain in your muscle or joint, it’s time to take a rest.


Take a break after you experience an overuse injury to let it recover and heal. “Continuing to play with an injury can cause stress fractures or muscle and tendon tears that may require more advanced treatment such as physical therapy or surgery,” said Dr. Lederman.

If your injury isn’t healing, be sure to see a physician for an evaluation. Dr. Lederman recommends calling your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Pain that doesn’t improve while resting
  • Pain that lasts longer than 2 weeks after discontinuing activity
  • You just feel something is clearly wrong

A sports medicine provider will diagnose your injury and develop a treatment plan to help you regain strength and flexibility.  They will assess your technique, training schedule and equipment to prevent further injury. They can also help you ease back into your sport or activity at the right time, when your body is ready. Sports medicine specialists treat all injures related to sports, exercise and repetitive work.

Learn more about Banner Health’s sports medicine specialists as well as pediatric and adult orthopedic services.

Sports Medicine Orthopedics Children's Health