Overuse Injuries

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Overuse Injuries

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Overuse injuries occur when an athlete chronically repeats the same task. Imagine taking a wire coat hanger and continuously bending it in the same place; after a while the hanger will develop a crack and then eventually snap. This analogy can be used to demonstrate the problem of ‘overuse injuries’.

Take a runner for example who is in training for a competition; the constant pounding of legs on a hard surface can cause sufficient amount of vibrational bone stress, which may then induce a stress fracture. Training for a serious endurance competition, such as a marathon or triathlon, requires many hours of intense training and this means overuse injuries are a real concern.

Overuse injuries may not fully manifest themselves until during the actual competition, where skeletal injury could become a problem early on, hindering the rest of the competition. These injuries, no matter how minor, will to some extent alter how energy substrates (carbs, protein and fats) are used as the competition progresses, therefore affecting fitness. There will also be a negative ‘knock on’ effect on how the ‘whole body’ uses substrates to repair afterwards.

As a counter argument, some may say that protein breakdown and muscular damage occur naturally during any competition, which is quite true. However, an athlete who has trained correctly (not subjected themselves to overuse) and maintained good nutrition should experience no alteration to fitness; receiving correct nutrition will mean a better capacity to heal the minor tissue damage that occurs during training and competition. In addition, athletes who maintain carb and fluid intake levels during exercise are likely to have better brain function, which translates into a smoother competition that is less prone to injury development.

According to Benardot ‘Loss of mental capacity, which can easily occur with either a carbohydrate or fluid storage deficit, causes a breakdown in coordination that can increase structural stresses that lead to injury’.

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