Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that half of all high school athletic injuries do not occur from a “hard hit,” “buckled knee,” or even “rolled ankle?” In fact most injuries do not occur from a single event, rather they fall into the “overuse” category.
By definition an overuse injury occurs “when stressing the body's tissues to the point of breakdown, WITHOUT adequate rest time to build them back up.”
This is particularly challenging for adolescents since their bodies are still growing and developing, and sooo much energy is going into that process.
Another group this is really common with is folks of any age who start to increase their activity.
To illustrate I am going to call out my wife Chelsea and her group of friends last summer while we were living up in the Teton’s. “The Mountain Mama’s” as they refer to themselves as are a group of about a half dozen ladies in their late 20’s and 30’s, who enjoy being active (especially in the outdoors), and AMAZINGLY have been able to continue this even while starting to have kids and raise them.
Well last summer they decided they were going to do a 30-40 mile run along the Teton Crest trail. And as soon as the snow receded and the mud dried out they got to work running….and they did not hold back either. Within the first couple weeks they were already doing 10+ mile trail runs.
I remember one night early in June telling Chels, “You gals know that if you keep going at this pace you are going to start getting some injuries?”
...BUT being the tough group of Western raised gals they continued forward…
...Fast forward a couple weeks and Chelsea gets the first text “Hey can you ask Brett what he thinks about this pain in my foot?,” then a week later “Hey Chelsea can you see what Brett thinks about why my ankle is sore and if there is anything to be done?”
Now PLEASE do not think I am tooting my own horn as some sort of Magical Therapy Wizard, it had nothing to do with conjuring up unseen powers to predict the future….
….But it had everything to do with good old-fashioned science and understanding how the Human Body ADAPTS to physical stress.
These incredible, tough, and talented women were not getting injured because they were weak, or clumsy on the trail...but because they were not allowing for human physiology to work it’s magic.
You see every tissue in our body is designed to take different types of stress; cartilage:compression, bone:axial loading, tendon:elastic energy, and so on.
And each of these tissue types have limitations (albeit very tough limitation ie ligaments have the same tensile strength as steel!!!) However, the big difference between a hunk of steel and your ligaments is when steel breakdowns it cannot repair itself….and further, as you put stress on steel it does not adapt and get stronger.
But in order for that adaptation or strengthening to occur, rest is a major part of the equation.
Training + Rest = Success
So going back to our original point; in the high school athlete (or any athlete really) ½ of all injuries are classified as overuse. The key to avoiding these overuse injuries is to allow a “training acclimation” phase with plenty of rest.
For more information Tips please check out our new ebook:
(And just a side note, for those of you who do not have a high school athlete, there is some good information for you too)