From golfers and tennis players to runners and baseball pitchers, athletes of all sorts are at risk for injuries that can hinder their performance and leave them sitting on the sidelines. Often these injuries are caused by overuse or repetitive stress on the same muscle groups or joints.
In many cases, these injuries can be treated — and prevented — with rehabilitation. Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center (PMC) Princeton Rehabilitation offers sports-specific rehabilitation programs to treat and prevent sports injuries and improve game performance.
Overuse injuries are a result of repetitive motions and stresses on the body that exceed the body’s ability to repair itself. These injuries cause damage to the bones, muscles, ligaments, or tendons.
Some of the most common causes of overuse injuries include:
Overtraining. Athletes who push themselves too hard without adequate rest can experience overuse injuries.
Poor technique. Athletes who use improper techniques are at greater risk for overuse injuries.
Muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances can occur when an athlete’s muscles are not evenly developed or used.
Research shows that approximately 25 to 50% of all sports injuries are a result of overuse.
Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendons, which connect muscles to bones. It is most common in the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. Tennis elbow, for example, is a type of tendinitis that affects the elbow and is caused by repetitive motion of the forearm and wrist.
Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa — small jelly-like sacs that are positioned between bones and soft tissues to help reduce friction — which can be caused by repeated small stresses and overuse. Many people experience bursitis along with tendinitis.
Stress fractures are small cracks in the bones caused by repetitive stress. They are common in the feet, legs, wrists, and spine.
Tibial stress syndrome (shin splints) as characterized by pain and inflammation along the shins — most common in dancers, military members, runners, and other athletes who run on hard surfaces. Shin splints can be caused by foot and ankle abnormalities, and/or improper footwear.
Patellofemoral syndrome, also known as runner’s knee is a common overuse injury that affects the function of the kneecap.
Overuse injuries typically occur over time and symptoms usually develop gradually. The pain often increases with activity and improves with rest.
If you suffer from an overuse or other sports injury, your doctor will likely recommend rehabilitation as part of your treatment plan. At Princeton Rehabilitation, sports rehabilitation programs are designed to improve and optimize physical performance by addressing flexibility, stability, endurance and conditioning.