Don't ignore warning signs of overuse

Be aware that overuse injuries can arise over time as you progress through training and exercise regimes. They can result from improper form; pushing too hard after an injury to return to pre-injury levels; imbalances between strength and flexibility; as well as old injuries, poor body alignment, unfit sports equipment, including shoes, or difficult terrain.

“With so many potential pitfalls, it can be difficult to know when to step it up to the next level,” says Dr. Robert Dimeff, medical director of sports medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Among the common signs of overuse are recurrent stiffness or pain, often in the shoulders, legs or elbows; favoring one arm or leg over the other; or a drop in performance. Initially symptoms occur only during activity. But as the condition progresses, the pain will worsen after exercise and eventually interfere with your ability to exercise.  

A generally recognized rule of thumb for increasing the exercise regimes is called the 10 percent rule: Don’t increase your training or activities more than 10 percent per week. Runners and walkers, for example, shouldn’t increase the distance or pace more than 10 percent.  If you’re using weights, limit the increased weight to 10 percent or less.

“It’s important to give your body time to properly adjust,” Dr. Dimeff says.

A sports medicine specialist can help you identify and address specific pitfalls, such as flat feet, intestinal problems or previous injuries, before you start your routine, as well as help address and treat new issues should they occur.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

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