by Annette Pinder
Summer is in full swing, as are summer sports and activities, as people spend more time outside pursuing their fitness goals or engaging in team tryouts. As fitness routines pick up steam, the resulting momentum often propels individuals to fully commit to exercising and achieving their goals. However, there are many components to a successful fitness regimen, not the least of which is sufficient rest, which is vital for allowing the body to recover and reduce the risk for various injuries, including overuse injuries.
Peter L. Gambacorta, DO, an orthopaedic surgeon at Excelsior Orthopaedics, who specializes in sports medicine, offers some guidance regarding the importance of balancing momentum with rest to avoid injuries as individuals of all ages pursue their fitness goals.
Dr. Gambacorta says that all activities carry a measure of risk, and that athletes and fitness enthusiasts suffer injuries daily that have nothing to do with overuse. He adds, “While these injuries often aren’t preventable, overuse injuries are.” According to Dr. Gambacorta, overuse injuries are caused by repetitive trauma. These injuries affect muscles or joints and may also be caused by training errors or mistakes with technique.
“Training errors include exercising for too long or doing too much of a certain activity. The resulting strain caused by overuse leads to injury. A common example of a technique error that can cause an overuse injury is improper form when performing strength training exercises.” As a result, he recommends consulting with a physician prior to beginning a new fitness regimen, as well as getting advice from a physical therapist, or certified athletic trainer who can illustrate proper techniques when using strength training equipment or lifting free weights because such guidance can greatly reduce an athlete’s risk for overuse injuries.
Overuse injuries are not always a result of errors with an athlete’s training or technique. A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that certain intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors can increase athletes’ risk for overuse injuries. Intrinsic risk factors for overuse injury include misalignment issues, leg length discrepancy, muscle imbalance, muscle weakness, and body composition. Accordingly, Dr. Gambacorta recommends that parents of young athletes discuss fitness regimens with their child’s pediatrician prior to beginning a new routine in order to uncover any underlying intrinsic risk factors.
The researchers explained that extrinsic risk factors can include surfaces; equipment, including shoes; environmental conditions; and nutrition. Thus, they concluded that athletes could avoid overuse injuries by examining equipment and playing surfaces to ensure they are functional and safe, and also by eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gambacorta says, “It is important to know that overuse injuries are almost always preventable, and while it can be hard to take a break from an exercise routine that’s producing results, rest is integral to a successful fitness regimen.
Peter L. Gambacorta DO is an orthopaedic surgeon at Excelsior Orthopaedics who specializes in Sports Medicine, treating all ages and areas of the body, including children and adolescents. Watch a video about Dr. Gambacorta at https://www.excelsiorortho.com/doctor/peter-l-gambacorta-md. To make an appointment with Dr. Gambacorta, call 716-250-2999.