Muscle Overuse: How Much is Too Much?

July 3rd, 2018 Becki Andrus

Exercising is great, but too much can quickly become a problem. Muscle overuse isn’t something that many of us are familiar with, but it is certainly an issue. From pulled backs to torn biceps, this is what working too hard can do to your body.

Muscle Overuse: How Much is Too Much?

When it comes to preventing orthopedic injuries, having a solid workout plan is often the key. However, you have to factor working too hard into your equations just as much as you do working too little. Muscle overuse can lead to a myriad of injuries that you don’t want to deal with, from pulling your back to tearing something. Finding your limits is tough, but it isn’t undoable.

We’ve explored this topic briefly before but now seems like a good time to go over it again. If you are going to be outdoors often this summer, you should probably consider just how much of a toll labor can take on you. Many people value hard work highly, and for good reason. Hard working members of society should be respected, and the people who are willing to work hard are often the best. However, we should not value hard work above health. These are the effects of muscle overuse.

The Injuries Overuse Causes

The first thing we need to understand about muscle overuse is the injuries it leads to. Injuries caused by muscle overuse are referred to as trauma injuries, though the medical meaning of trauma and yours might not align. Trauma often does refer to a sudden, shocking, and life-altering change when we are discussing traumatic injuries. In this case, however, it would be more accurate to think of trauma as simply meaning anything sudden. Overuse injuries can be strained over time, but the injury is normally the result of one incident.

The trauma injuries caused by muscle overuse vary wildly in scope but are put into two categories: microtrauma (the big ones) and microtrauma (the small ones). Generally, you will only see microtrauma injuries as a result of only muscle overuse, though overuse in conjunction with another issue will cause macrotrauma.

Microtrauma injuries include things like tendonitis, calluses, blisters, and so on. In some cases, overuse can lead to bruised and blackened toenails. While this isn’t the most painful on the list of microtrauma injuries, it is one of the most offputting. Shin splints and golfer’s elbow are more painful options, both of which can lead to lasting, or even permanent, side effects. Carpal tunnel is one of the more common, and more unfortunate, microtrauma injuries, and is one of the number one reasons to avoid overuse.

Treating Overuse Injuries

You may notice that there is a similar treatment for most overuse injuries. While the process isn’t quite as simple, it’s most effective to sum it up as “underuse.” The key component in the treatment of an overuse injury is rest. Rest, and ice in case of inflammation. If you have an overuse injury, you will likely be recommended over the counter painkillers. It is important to note that over the counter doesn’t always mean harmless. Any pill can have a lasting effect on your body, so they should only be taken when absolutely necessary. if you “need to take an ibuprofen before the gym,” it’s likely better to skip the gym. Yes, for once staying home to watch TV might be healthier for you.

Of course, the most effective treatment for overuse injuries is prevention. There are only a few scenarios where an overuse injury absolutely could not be avoided. To prevent overuse injuries, here are the things you need to look out for.

Preventing Muscle Overuse

What are the two things you need to consider at the gym? The first is weight. When you’re lifting, setting and raising your weight is how you get stronger. However, raising the weight too much quickly leads to overuse. In general, you shouldn’t be raising your weight by more than a single unit each visit. With free weight, this is normally five pounds, while on a machine it will either be five or ten. Remember that improvement happens over a long period, not overnight.

You also need to consider reps or repetition. This is the leading cause of overuse. It’s simple: doing the same motion over and over wears down your body. Whether this is lifting a barbell or scrolling through Facebook is your decision, but either way, make sure to change up your motion every now and then. You shouldn’t be “feeling the pain,” you should be feeling, at worst, mild soreness.

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