The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Over-Training
Practice, practice, and practice again until you get it right; do it better, perfect it, and get the win. All good advice when you are involved in competitive sports, right? We all know the only way to make it to No. 1 is to practice, practice, and practice again to perfect your game. After all, practice does make perfect, and as you carry on through the pain, the hours, the miles, or the court time, your dedication does get you the grand prize; the trophy, the medal, the prestige, and the title. At the end of the day you, my friend, are the best!
Regrettably, that same dedication to your sport, hours of practice, and repetitive motion may also get you something else; overuse injuries, especially when you are a newbie doing too much, too often, and too soon.
It is so exciting to learn a new sport, isn’t it? You find yourself wanting to play all the time and can’t seem to get enough court time, road time, water time, or powder time. Aspiring to be the best and keeping your eyes on the prize is a big part of all that practice time, but let’s be honest, the real reason you are out there so much is for the pure exhilaration of your sport!
So you run more miles than you should, you cycle too many miles in a day, taking on steeper and steeper roads in an attempt to push yourself beyond your personal best. You find a tennis court filled with light so you can practice beyond sunset to perfect that lob, backhand, or serve until you have total control of the ball, and you swing that bat until you hit it out of the park five more times – in a row. What’s a little pain anyway? So, you suck it up, walk it off, and keep doing it , through the pain, until you get it right, aiming for perfection.
Unfortunately, your quest for excellence may also secure you one more thing – a knee brace, an arm sling, a pair of crutches, or worse! Each sport encompasses its own set of injuries; from ACL tears to osteoarthritis.
Tennis, Football, Basketball, Martial Arts, Rugby, Volley Ball and Alpine Skiing: All have one thing in common, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears; commonplace among athletes participating in sports involving constant lateral moves, speed variations, and quick directional changes. Symptoms include pain, a sudden popping sound, swelling, decreased range of motion, and weakness in the knee. Ignoring any of these symptoms may result in substantial cartilage damage and an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Cycling, Running, and Long Distance Walkers: The most common injury for you is overuse; remember going that extra mile may not always be a good thing. ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) is a tricky one because the pain may not occur while you are biking, running, or walking, but may intensify over time and persist once you stop. Therefore, your injury may go undetected as you continue on with your sport. Symptoms may include a stinging sensation around the knee, and swelling.
Skiing and Football: Ligament injuries, such as MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament), are pretty common if you participate in football or skiing, as the injury is usually caused by a direct hit to the side of the leg, twisting, or falling on a hard surface. Symptoms range from mild soreness to considerable pain on the inside of the knee, or your knee may become unstable or wobbly.
Soccer, Rugby, Racket Sports, Track and Field, and Long Distance Running: Attacking various joints throughout your body such as, hands, feet, knees, and hips, osteoarthritis, a degenerative malaise, creeps up over time and is caused by normal wear and tear, playing sports, overuse, and cartilage and ligament injuries. Symptoms often develop gradually and are commonly a sharp pain or burning sensation, stiffness, a decrease in range of motion, and muscle spasms.
Running: Another overuse injury – Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain) – is caused by a repeated bending of the knee. Overstretched tendons, misalignment of the kneecap or any bones, flat feet, and weak thigh muscles may also cause this injury. Runner’s Knee can occur at any age, young or old. Symptoms include pain around the kneecap, a cracking sensation or feeling that your knee is giving out, pain when you bend your knee during normal activities, and swelling.
One thing all athletes should be trained to do is listen to their body more than their brains or their hearts. Pain shows up for a reason and is a warning that should not be ignored.
Did you hear that? I think your body is saying, “Hey bud, it’s time to dial it back a bit; you know, pace yourself, or hey, what about taking a day off?!”
Slow and steady does win the race of staying in top form and, in this case, just may keep you out of the ER!
Published November 2012
Client: Organic Media