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Physical activity, exercise and overuse injuries

Published: July 27, 2018

Physical activity all year round
Physical activity all year round

Physical activity is recognised as a key component of a healthy lifestyle.

Numerous health benefits can potentially be obtained by engaging in adequate physical activity.
Recommendations suggest 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense physical activity can provide health benefits, but many people do much more than this for various reasons.
Just as too little exercise (hypokinetic) is associated with increased risk of health problems so is too much exercise (hyperkinetic).
While engaging in more physical activity than the suggested health recommendations can provide you with greater health benefits, the downside to physical activity and exercise is that the more you do the more you increase your risk of injury.
During any physical activity stress is applied to your body.
If your body responds well to the applied stress it will adapt and become more efficient at that particular activity, for instance: cardiovascular, muscle strength, muscle endurance or flexibility.
If your body does not respond well to the applied stress then it will begin to break down and may fail resulting in an assortment of injuries and possible disablement. 
The most common injuries associated with physical activity, and these can also be associated with  work related activities, are overuse injuries which usually have no specific origin, and often become chronic.
Symptoms such as discomfort, swelling, and limited motion around a particular joint or muscle arise, can last for weeks, may not be resolved, and may worsen.   
Acute injuries usually result from a specific incident often accompanied by an identified pain in a specific body location at the time of the injury.
An acute injury may also be accompanied by enduring pain, swelling, limited motion and limitation or inability to perform the normal function associated with that body part.
Overuse injuries can occur throughout your body, but most commonly occur in your knee, foot, ankle, low back, and shoulder area, and if not attended to may increase your risk for acute injuries.
Muscle and connective tissue injuries, such as strains and sprains, are most frequent.
A strain is the overstretching or tearing of a muscle, tendon or musculotendinous junction (where the muscle and tendon join).
Strains can be 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree which refers to the amount of stretching: minimal stretching with little pain or disability to total tearing and separation of fibres which results in no muscle function.
Mild strains usually occur in the belly of your muscle with severe strains associated with the tendinous junction.
A sprain refers to an injury to a ligament, the band of fibres which connects bone to bone. Sprains are also identified as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree indicating minimal stretching to completely torn ligaments.
Common overuse injuries
Some common overuse injuries are outlined below...To learn more link to the full article.


American Council on Exercise (1993) Aerobics Instructor Manual: San Diego, CA: American Council on Exercise
CSEP (2013) Physical Activity Training for Health Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology http://www.csep.ca/english/view.asp?x=898
American Council on Exercise (1996). Personal Trainer Manual. San Diego, CA: American Council on Exercise