Healthy Living: Avoiding overuse injuries when returning to sports

It's been a strange year for high school athletics, but now that fall sports are wrapping up and the spring season has young athletes returning to the tracks, fields and courts physical therapists are reminding them to be wary of overuse injuries.

Posted: Apr 13, 2021 4:26 PM
Updated: May 3, 2021 11:04 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- It's been a strange year for high school athletics, but now that fall sports are wrapping up and the spring season has young athletes returning to the tracks, fields and courts, physical therapists are reminding them to be wary of overuse injuries.

Oregon Medical Group physical therapist Rachel Burch said that she noticed an increase in overuse injuries once athletes got back onto the field earlier this year. For many students, a lack of high school athletics left a void in their exercise habits.

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"A lot of these kids have been sitting on the sofa and sitting in Zoom classes for over a year now, and then all of the sudden they are going back to school and starting sports," Burch said.

Student-athletes shouldn't expect to achieve what they were able to the last time they were on the field. Pushing yourself too far can commonly result in injuries like tendonitis.

"The muscle that is being used that connects the tendon to the bone becomes kind of tense and tight because it's been used constantly and at a greater intensity than it was prior," said Burch.

Making sure athletes are properly warming up before exerting themselves can be one effective intervention. Burch also said that coaches and trainers should take special care with their training plans.

"Help with building a strong conditioning plan where we are slowly ramping these kids up to this level of activity," she said.

However, even the best training can't always keep students from overdoing it when it comes to game time. If they find themselves in pain, physical therapy could be the answer. 

"If they're starting to notice pain and injury, that's where PT really comes in strong to figure out why we are having this injury and what's causing these tissues to become irritated," said Burch.

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