Repetitive Strain Injuries

What is repetitive strain injury?

Repetitive strain injury, also called overuse injury, is an injury to a muscle or joint that results from repetitive motion or trauma. These injuries are very common in people who are starting a new form of exercise, who have ramped up the amount of exercise they do in a short period of time, or whose occupations or hobbies entail extended bouts of repetitive motion.

Repetitive strain injuries can happen to anyone, but older people are more susceptible to them. The risk is also higher in people who have previously experienced injuries to some muscles and joints, and who have certain medical conditions, such as arthritis.


What kinds of repetitive strain injury are there?

Repetitive strain injuries are broadly divided into two categories:

  • Training injuries are a result of starting or ramping up physical activity too quickly. This includes running or cycling too fast or for too long, or spending a long stretch of time doing an activity that has little variance, such as typing or playing a musical instrument.
  • Technique injuries generally result from poor form or incorrect technique during exercise. Examples include improper use of weights, poor posture while running and use of a computer keyboard without consideration for ergonomics.


What are the causes?

Factors that can cause or contribute to repetitive strain injuries include the following:

  • Improper form or incorrect equipment. Many people think that technique in athletics is only important for performance, but it is also a key part of reducing the risk of injury. If weights are used incorrectly, the exercise is largely ineffective, and it is far more likely to cause damage to the muscles. Similarly, using the correct form with the wrong equipment can be damaging. For example, running shoes that do not provide the right amount of support for your feet can result in injuries to the heels, ankles, or knees
  • Poor pacing. Many people who start a new exercise regime will try to cram all of their weeks’ workouts into the weekend. Any training program is more effective with shorter, more frequent workouts.
  • Doing too much too soon. People who are making the transition from sedentary to active lifestyles, and those who are returning to exercise after a layoff, are advised to gradually build up their efforts. Instead of trying to run fifteen kilometres on the first weekend, start with a shorter run and gradually increase the distance.
  • Not having enough variation in a training program. If your primary sport is a high-impact activity, such as running or soccer, it is worthwhile to incorporate some low-impact activities in your fitness routine. This allows you to get the exercise you need while preventing overload to a particular muscle or group of muscles.

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