by Erik Dalton Ph.D.
Sports activities have become a regular way of life for many today and involve people from all age groups. From those with an avid interest, to those who just wish to keep fit… from elite professionals, to casual participants, all are at risk for cumulative trauma disorders.
Many injuries such as tennis elbow, piriformis syndrome, and ‘pulled’ hamstrings result from overuse, i.e. playing too hard and too often, not warming up properly beforehand or warming down after exercise (Fig. 1). Overuse injuries, otherwise known as cumulative trauma disorders, are described as tissue damage that results from repetitive demand over the course of time. The term refers to a vast array of diagnoses, including occupational, recreational, and habitual activities. The pathophysiology of overuse injuries is based on the idea that tissues adapt to the stresses placed on them over time as fully discussed in “Human Silly Putty”.
These stresses include shear, torsion, compression, impingement, vibration, and contraction. Mechanical fatigue within tendons, ligaments, nerves, and other soft tissues results in characteristic changes depending on their individual properties. This fatigue leads to adaptations and compensations throughout the body.