We all know how important it is to stay physically fit. The benefits of regular activity are well-documented – stronger bones, stronger muscles, more efficient circulatory and respiratory systems. People who make physical fitness a priority often enjoy an improved quality of life, and are less susceptible to certain types of diseases.
When making a plan to get or stay fit, be sure to take precautions against injury. If you aren’t used to a certain activity or are returning to an activity after a period of inactivity, stress injuries are a real possibility. These injuries may result in a plethora of long-lasting ailments such as herniated discs, sciatica, osteoarthritis or general neck and back pain.
Overuse: the most common injury
Most sports injuries are overuse injuries. Your body learns by repetition; the more you perform a physical activity, the better your muscles and tendons will be able to perform that activity. However, it takes time for the body to learn and adapt to a new routine. When people try to do too much, too soon – in other words, when they try to perform at a level their body isn’t acclimated to yet – tissues break down and overuse injuries occur.
How to avoid overuse injuries
The good news is that overuse injuries are also the easiest injuries to avoid. Here are some steps you can take to avoid overuse injuries to your back:
- Consult your physician before beginning any new exercise routine to make sure your body can handle the stresses of the activity.
- Stretch carefully and thoroughly before and after physical activity.
- Seek guidance from an experienced friend or instructor when learning new activities.
- Work up to your desired level of activity gradually (for example, don’t try to run three miles if you’ve never run before).
- Be aware of your body’s signals at all times. If you start to feel pain, stiffness or soreness, stop and give your body a chance to rest.
- Be sure to wear the proper supportive footwear for your activity.
- Avoid activity when you are tired, sick, overheated or in pain.
If you experience pain after your activity, it’s best to take a few days to recover before trying again. You may also want to try a modified, less-intense version of your desired workout until your body gains strength and coordination. If you continue to experience pain after a few days of rest, consult a physician for a recovery plan.
If you have pain in your neck and back as the result of a sports injury, and your symptoms have persisted for months despite conservative treatments, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive outpatient procedures can help you find relief from neck and back pain.