Sports cause a rise in overuse injuries

Sarah Booth

With the Spring sports season at its peak, and with an increasing number of students playing sports year-round, student athletes are facing injuries that keep them from being able to compete in their sport.

Repetitive activities and movements in practice can lead to the early stages of an overuse injury, an injury originating from persistent movements.

According to the organization Stop Sports Injuries, “Overuse injuries are difficult to diagnose because the pains caused by repetitive microtrauma often go unreported or are overlooked by the athlete during the initial progression of the injury. Many athletes ignore minor aches and pains because they are subtle and minimally affect function in the initial stages.”

Overuse injuries have a tendency to get progressively worse and develop into more serious ailments if left untreated.

“Today, some high school athletes are getting career-ending injuries before they reach college [because] young athletes are getting bigger and faster. They train more, they have access to better equipment, they focus more and they have better coaching. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of education built into the system to help prevent overuse injuries,”  Dr. Jeffrey Guy of Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital said.

Junior Lauren Zhao, member of the Girls’ Track team, has experience with sports injuries and currently has to take time off due to her injury.

“I landed in a weird way when I was doing the long jump, and my leg basically collided with my hip. It’s most likely a labral tear, and I’m currently going to physical therapy for it, but I may have to have surgery to fix it,” Zhao said.

While Zhao’s injury originated as a traumatic injury (an injury of sudden onset and severity), it progressed into an overuse injury.

“I originally thought that my hip was just going to be sore for a few days, so I ran through it even though I was hurting, which made it significantly worse,” Zhao said; “I was overworking that area of my body for the condition it was in, so now it’s an aggravated and overuse  injury.”

Zhao has had to adjust her lifestyle greatly for the sake of her injury.

“It sucks because I only got to go to two meets, and then I couldn’t do anything [at practice] because I couldn’t exercise. Track is a sport where you have to progress and be committed to it, so the injury is a big setback,” Zhao said. “I really miss being able to work out because I’m a very active person, and now I have to sit around.”

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Athletes can prevent overuse injuries is through cross training: diversifying their exercises to work various muscles to prevent overworking a specific muscle group while still staying in shape for your sport.

“By incorporating diverse forms of exercise, a person challenges his or her respiratory and musculoskeletal systems while allowing a break from sport-specific activities,” Dr. George Krucik of Health Review Board said.  This helps limit the impact put on an athlete who continues to condition and strain the same muscle groups over and over.”

Student athletes are expected to train hard to do well in their sport, and having an overuse injury can turn out being a huge set back, preventing you from training and competing at your best. The best way to avoid an injury is to diversify your training and listen to your body. Even though repetitive training may help you specialize in your sport, and playing through the pain may be honorable, they both can cause some serious damage in the long run.