Take Charge of Your Health - Too Much of A Good Thing: Part II - Repetitive Motion Injuries
Humans aren't built to sit all day. Nor are we built for the kinds of repetitive small movements that so much of today's specialized work demands.
-Scott Jurek, author
It's Great You are Exercising, but Mix it Up...and Take a Rest
Our focus this month is on a few issues some have asked about that fall under the heading of "too much of a good thing." First up on March 1, was Pain Medications, which are certainly in today's news. This blog is all about concerns with Repetitive Motion Injuries. On March 29th we will conclude the series with Diet Misconceptions.
Repetitive motion injuries (RMI) are responsible for 50% of all injuries seen by doctors. RMI can affect elbows, shoulders, knees, hips and wrists. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, numbness, throbbing, loss of flexibility and loss of strength. These injuries, caused by excessive training and/or doing the same motion, over and over again, damage your muscles, nerves, tendons or ligaments. Tendinitis, inflammation of the tendons, is one of the most common disorders and often linked to overexertion - such as swinging a tennis racket or a golf club. Gripping a tennis racket too tightly can strain muscles and put stress on tendons usually in the elbow. Over time, this tugging causes microscopic tears in the tissue. Typically tennis or golf elbow will heal on its own, but requires resting the injured tendon.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is also associated with repetitive motion. People who use keyboards, cash registers or hand tools can experience numbness, burning, tingling and weakness in their wrists, hands and fingers. This condition is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs from the arm through a passage in the wrist (carpal tunnel) to the hand. Repeating the same motion over prolonged periods can aggravate the tendons and cause swelling, which, in turn, puts pressure on the median nerve and causes pain.
If you or your child is playing organized sports, you have likely heard about the pros and cons of sport specialization. Specializing in one sport, (often all year long), means the same muscle groups are used over and again, leading to a higher rate of injury versus athletes who play multiple sports, call on different muscle groups and usually experience fewer injuries. It is important to note that for teenage athletes, overuse injuries often occur at the growth plates that are weaker than the nearby tendons and ligaments. The areas of the body most affected by RMI in adolescents include elbow, heels, knees and shoulders.
Coaches, athletes and parents alike should keep a careful eye on:
The amount of training in a single sport
The use of proper equipment (as an example running in shoes that do not provide the right support can lead to shin splints, foot and ankle issues)
Improper body mechanics which can also quickly lead to overuse injuries.
Some things to do to reduce your chances of injuries:
Stretching and other conditioning exercises, both for warm up and cool down
Ensuring proper nutrition to maintain strong bones and muscles
Applying ice when you over do it
Trying splints and/or braces when necessary
Trying PT and massage therapy
Taking breaks from the sport
Next Up is our blog on common diet misconceptions. As always, join us on the Health-E3 website blog page. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences. Check out our newest page on Personalized Care. Feel free to ask a question about anything on the website or suggest ideas for additional helpful information. And remember, it's up to you to Take Charge of Your Health.