It’s that time of the year when you think about switching on the central heating, and remember that you need to get a service, to make sure that your heating doesn’t break down in the middle of the coldest spell, when you’re expecting it to work hardest.
Now think of the soft tissues in your body (muscles, connective tissue/fascia, tendons, and ligaments) in the same way. If you work your body harder and put it under greater strain through exercise or your job, then eventually it could break down as a result of overuse and muscle imbalances. A regular ‘service’ could help prevent that happening!
Overuse injuries can occur from any repetitive activity which could be exercise or occupational actions. During exercise micro-tearing occurs in the muscle fibres and regeneration and remodelling takes place in response, which along with other physical adaptations in the blood vessels and connective tissues allows the body to get stronger. However as the microscopic wounds heal the scar tissue may not completely reabsorb and the tissue may be weaker and stiffer than previously. Subsequent training loads these muscles before they are fully healed and overuse injuries can develop slowly from repeated micro-trauma from overloading in a specific area of muscle.
Overuse can also occur in daily life in repetitive occupational activities such as driving, sitting behind a desk or using a mouse. It can be caused by poor postural habits where muscle imbalances cause overload of muscles.
Because the body is remarkable at adaptation it will lead to imbalances, with other muscles compensating and you can often remain blissfully unaware that there is ‘trouble brewing’ until you feel pain or sustain an injury at another site (which could be remote from the problem). The weakest link in the kinetic chain breaks down!