Aug 17, 2012

Overuse Injuries

A while back I overworked my shoulder to injury. It took about 6 weeks of overuse. We tend to think of injuries as being a traumatic one-time event, like stepping off a curb funny and twisting an ankle, or slipping and landing on your wrist with a bang. But our bodies can suffer injury from overuse, or what is also called 'wear and tear,' as well. Overuse injuries can be just as painful and debilitating as a sudden traumatic injury. Overuse injuries occur when we perform an action over and over again, and don't provide the conditions for the soft tissues to heal. Often poor body mechanics can be a major contributor to wear and tear injuries.  Also, it is common to develop compensation patterns, such as using other muscles that are not as strong or designed for the task, further complicating the matter.

How can we heal from an overuse injury?

First things first: get extra sleep and extra water. Treat your body like it's sick, cuz it is. Instead of your white blood cells attacking foreign invaders, they are attacking the damaged and destroyed cells at the site of your injury. And of course, limit, reduce or stop doing whatever action led to the overuse injury - which is easier said than done. But however you can creatively avoid or limiting further damage to the area, the better. This does not mean to not use or move the injured area. Far from it. If you stop moving the joint or limb, you will only encourage adding insult to injury by inducing long term joint immobility. Frozen shoulder, anyone? I don't think so. Keep moving! Go for a walk, swing your arms, roll your wrists, rotate your neck and  head, any kind of slow, gentle movement that explores the range of motion of a given joint is vital - and do it at least daily. Better yet, find a Qi Gong class. Qi Gong is a slow, methodical exercise, developed from thousands of years of experience and wisdom in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Use Hydrotherapy, meaning use cold and hot packs to increase circulation to the area. And get some good bodywork. I went for a energetic-form of Shiatsu for my shoulder injury - it worked beautifully. But any kind of therapeutic massage will help balance the soft tissues, boost endorphins and encourage healing by promoting the parasympathetic response. And finally, find out, either from a massage therapist, a trainer, a physical therapist, or any licensed professional who works with and understands the musculoskeletal body how to balance the muscles around the injured area

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