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With the divisional playoffs heating up, all eyes are on Kansas City Chief’s defensive tackle Chris Jones in the hopes that he’ll be well enough to play in the AFC Championship Game against the Tennessee Titans this weekend.
He’s currently listed as questionable to play after he suffered a calf injury last week and Coach Andy Reid says he’s taking it day-to-day when it comes to determining his health and status.
Although the team isn’t releasing details about the injury, near the end of the season, players often see overuse injuries start to occur. Not only common in football, this condition can include things like tennis elbow, jumper’s knee and stress fractures.
Overuse injuries all have the same underlying cause. When you push a certain bone, muscle or joint too hard too often, the damage can add up.
Your body’s healing powers are amazing, but you have to give them time.
This type of damage, called overuse or repetitive motion injuries, are often seen in elite athletes pushing their limits, like Chris Jones on the football field. But just about anyone can get them. Each body is different, and injury tends to come when a person pushes their own boundaries, wherever they are.
An overuse injury can happen to an inactive person who starts walking long distances. Or it can hit a regular walker who takes an intense exercise class.
There are no hard-and-fast rules, no numbers of miles you shouldn’t walk or weight you shouldn’t lift. What matters is starting where you are — not where you want to be — and taking it slowly.
It may be tempting to cut corners by rushing things, but you’ll only slow yourself down. Though they can be painful, an overuse injury’s real danger is that it can end an exercise effort before it begins.
Follow these tips to avoid an overuse injury to ensure you stay off the sidelines.
Ease Into It
Whether you’re walking, swimming, biking or gardening, start at an intensity and duration that’s comfortable for you. Depending on your fitness level, that could mean walking 3 blocks — or it could mean running 3 miles.
You’ll get more benefits of exercise if you exercise harder, but take it slow. The general advice is to add 10 percent more weight, distance or time each week.
That means if you use 10-pound weights for a bicep curl one week, go to 11 pounds the next week. And if you jog for 2 miles one week, add .2 miles the next week.
Each week, your bones and muscles will be getting a little bit stronger. If you take it slow, they can heal and rebuild without getting damaged.
Easing into and out of each day’s activities can also prevent overuse injuries.
Warm Up, Cool Down
If you’re running, bicycling or doing another activity that strengthens your heart and lungs, start each session with a warm up for five to 10 minutes.
Similarly, if you’re lifting weights, go for some light ones first to start your blood flowing to your muscles.
After you’re done, spend another five to 10 minutes cooling off by walking and stretching. Your muscles will thank you later.
Listen to Your Body
An overstressed body will send out warning signs before an overuse injury happens. If you’re in pain during exercise that lasts more than a few days, it could be a sign that your body is under more stress.
If that happens, give it time to heal. If possible, keep staying active by finding an activity that doesn’t put weight on the bone or muscle that’s hurting. Swimming or elliptical machines are often good ways to give bones a break.
Resting at least one day a week by simply doing nothing is also a good way to give your body time to recover. Adding stretching routines, like yoga or Pilates, to the mix can improve your joints’ range of motion.
Staying in the Game
Elite athletes like Chris Jones have a team of coaches and trainers that will help him recover and regain his full health. Think of AdventHealth as your team, and use us during your recovery.
Being active in body, mind and spirit is a central tenet of AdventHealth’s CREATION Life philosophy. Preventing and effectively treating overuse injuries preserves your ability to keep moving.
If an overuse injury needs immediate attention, AdventHealth’s urgent care centers and emergency departments offer convenient, on-demand care in your neighborhood.