Lower Limb Injuries from Overuse: A Common Problem in Sports

Lower Limb Injuries from Overuse: A Common Problem in Sports

Athletes undergo intense training and attempt to set new boundaries, placing them on the verge of overuse injuries. The body tissues react as they do, predictably and accordingly to training loads beyond levels already accustomed to. Repetitious overloading that is beyond the body’s own ability to repair along with adverse internal and external factors, insufficient rest, and recovery time lead to maladaptive chronic use injuries.

Injury from Overuse

An acute injury usually results from a singular event such as hit or fall.  By contrast, an overuse injury develops slowly over time because of repetitive stress on tendons, muscles, bones, or joints. The body compensates for the injured area and thus, injuries start to develop from overuse. The accumulative degeneration may show symptoms earlier and earlier into each training session or suddenly, but stays in a continuum of chronic process.

In general, lower limb sports overuse injuries occur when either repetitive friction between two tissue surfaces or tissue overload causes micro trauma. Continuous activity results in tissue damage and inadequate time for recovery. The most common extrinsic factors are changes in method, intensity or duration of training.

Chronic Overuse Injuries in Lower Limb

Chronic overuse injuries affecting lower limb is one of the most common injuries encountered in sports. The most frequent of these are Achilles and patella tendinopathies, plantar fasciosis, and stress injuries of tibia and foot/ankle. It is recommended that athletes should limit unnecessary walking and use appropriate footwear.

Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is a condition of the tendon which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It includes symptoms such as pain in the lower calf and back of the heel, and weakness or stiffness.

Patellar Tendinopathy

Patellar tendinopathy, commonly known as patellar tendonitis/tendinitis or Jumper’s knee, is an injury affecting the knee. Overstress of the patella tendon causes tendinopathy. It is characterised by gradual progressive activity-related pain. The patellar tendon has microtears and collagen degeneration but there is no inflammation.

Plantar Fasciosis

Plantar Fasciosis is a foot condition characterised by heel pain and pain in the plantar fascia, a strong and dense connective tissue structure on the sole of the foot supporting the foot arch. It has been traditionally called plantar fasciitis because it was believed that plantar fascia inflammation was the main underlying cause.

Stress Injuries of Tibia and Foot/Ankle

Stress injuries in these areas can be a small fracture or severe bruising within a bone. Most stress fractures are caused by overuse and repetitive movements, and are common in runners and athletes involved in running sports, such as football and basketball. The weight-bearing bones of the foot and lower leg are especially vulnerable to stress fractures due to repetitive forces they have to absorb during activities such as walking running, and jumping.

Treating Overuse Injuries

Having overuse injury means that you have been overstraining or overusing a joint, tendon, or group of muscles for a long time. Correcting this to be able to go on with exercising or training, needs careful assessment and advice. An advice from a physiotherapist specialising in sports medicine can be very helpful.

A physiotherapist can help you recover to make sure you can exercise in the future without reinjuring yourself. Our Perth physiotherapists are trained in the assessment of lower limb mechanics, including lumbo-pelvic control and mobility, foot position, hip range of motion, and muscle control of the hip, knee and ankle. Assessment and rehabilitation of lower limb dysfunction also includes other essential components such as proprioception and balance.

If you have overuse injuries, call i Physio Perth at 9444 8729 today!