How Much is Too Much?

You’re never too old for sports, but playing the wrong way could cause more damage than good, according to CHI Health Orthopedic Surgeon Kellen Huston, MD.

“Sports activity, at any age, helps reduce the risk or slow the progression of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, stroke, even heart disease. But for lifelong athletes, weekend warriors or those just trying to improve their health, repetitive motion like running, cycling and golfing have the potential for chronic injuries. Bad technique, overexertion and/or too fast of progression speeds the process and makes the normal wear and tear more damaging.”

Achilles tendonitis, runner’s knee, along with golfer’s and tennis elbow are some of the most common repetitive-use injuries. They take attention to manage and heal.

“Consult a trusted professional, early on, if you experience pain when resting, increased pain during activity, swelling or fluid build-up. We can aid in the prevention of further  damage. It might be as simple as rest, changes in technique, or even physical therapy. If those fail, we can look at surgical options.”

The three most important things to remember when trying to avoid sports injuries are: to take some time to warm up, increase intensity at your own pace, and to remember to keep good form and technique.

Going too fast, for too long or simply doing too much of one type of activity can strain your muscles. To avoid an overuse injury, try:

Retaining muscle 

Muscle strength and mass weaken over time due to loss in muscle fibers. Exercise and weightlifting can help slow the process and keep you in shape. If you are older, decrease the weight and increase repetition.

Muscles burn energy even when not being used. Increasing mass, by just a little, will help you shed excess pounds more effectively.

Warming up 

Cold muscles are more prone to injury. Five minutes of light aerobic activity followed by a few minutes of stretching will prepare your body for activity.

Cooling down 

Gently stretching for five minutes after activity will make your recovery easier. Be sure to drink plenty of water.

Proper technique 

Using poor form as you lift weights, swing a club or even throw a ball can overload certain muscles, causing an overuse injury.

Kellen L. Huston, MD

Sports Medicine,
Orthopedic Surgery