“Repetitive soft tissue injuries occur when a tissue sustains more damage than it can heal over a period of time,” Matthews said. “The ultimate cause of all repetitive soft tissue injuries is simply doing too much, too soon.”
To prevent a repetitive injury, you need to take a measured approach to exercise and sport. Ditch the weekend warrior approach in which you’re inactive all week, then run 15 miles (24 kilometers) on the weekend.
“Moderation is key,” said orthopedic physical therapist Scott Cheatham, professor of kinesiology at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
It is also important to slowly acclimate your body to any given activity. “The only proven way to reduce your risk of repetitive soft tissue injury is to gradually increase the volume and intensity of your training over time,” Matthews said.
A good rule of thumb: don’t increase your training volume by more than 10% per week. And every four to eight weeks, rest your body by dramatically reducing the volume and intensity of your workouts. “This ‘three steps forward, one step back’ approach takes discipline and isn’t always fun,” Matthews said, “but it’s the best way to make your body more resilient and durable.”
Diet, stress and sleep may also increase the risk
“If your core muscles aren’t strong enough to withstand hours of training, their strength will decrease, then spinal stability will decrease, and then your nerves and soft tissues will be irritated,” she said. . “It’s a domino effect.”
Still, these exercises must be performed correctly, or ironically, they could cause a mild injury. So consult a professional before doing them yourself to ensure proper form. This may be your physical therapist, chiropractor, personal trainer or fitness instructor.
Take any injury seriously
If you injure yourself despite all your precautions, take it seriously. “Even when people realize they have a soft tissue injury, they often continue with their program and whistle past the cemetery, hoping it will get better over time,” Matthews said. “Most often it just gets worse until it hurts enough that the person just can’t exercise because of the pain.”
Instead of ignoring this muscle or ligament strain, see a qualified healthcare provider and expect to spend a few weeks to a month or more recovering, depending on the severity of the injury, your age, and other factors. More importantly, complete your entire rehab process so another injury doesn’t happen, Cheatham said. Don’t stop the minute you start to feel a little better.
A positive mindset is also the key to a quick recovery. “If you think you won’t get better, you won’t get better. If you think you’ll get hurt again, you’ll get hurt again,” Maranan said. “It starts with your mindset, then religiously does your home workouts and post-exercise recovery routine.” And remember, stay mindful to stay true to form.