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Overuse Injuries in Overhead Athletes


As the name suggests, overuse injuries occur due to repetitive actions, which can put excessive stress on bones, muscles, ligaments and joints. Overhead athletes, including (but not limited to) basketball players, baseball pitchers, volleyball players, and tennis players, are at a higher risk of developing overuse injuries due to the repetitive nature of their movements and the demands they place on their bodies.


Overuse injuries can result in pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility, which can significantly impact an athlete's performance and overall quality of life. It is essential to understand the causes and risk factors for overuse injuries in overhead athletes, and to implement effective prevention strategies to minimize the risk of injury.


Causes of Overuse Injuries in Overhead Athletes

  1. Repetitive motions: The repeated overhead motions required in many sports can put excessive stress on bones, muscles, ligaments and joints, leading to overuse injuries.

  2. Improper technique: Overhead athletes who use improper technique, such as incorrect arm positioning or body alignment, are at a higher risk of developing overuse injuries.

  3. Overuse of certain muscles: Overhead athletes who rely too heavily on one set of muscles, without proper rest and recovery, are at a higher risk of overuse injury.

  4. Lack of physical fitness: Athletes who are not physically fit, either due to a lack of training or poor conditioning, are at a higher risk of developing overuse injuries.


Prevention Strategies for Overuse Injuries in Overhead Athletes

  1. Proper technique: Overhead athletes should receive proper coaching and training on technique/form to minimize the risk of overuse injury.

  2. Cross-training: Overhead athletes should engage in cross-training activities, such as swimming or cycling, that target different body regions/muscle groups to develop a balanced and well-rounded fitness regimen.

  3. Rest and recovery: Overhead athletes should allow for adequate rest and recovery between practices and games to prevent overuse injury.

  4. Strengthening exercises: Overhead athletes should engage in a regular strength training program to develop stronger muscles, bones, and joints, which can help prevent overuse injury.

  5. Gradual progression: Overhead athletes should increase the intensity and duration of their training gradually to prevent overuse injury.


Many athletes do not recognize the impact Physical Therapists (PTs) can have on each of these 5 areas. PTs are considered the “movement experts” and can break down complex movements in order to identify faulty patterns or techniques. They can then work with each individual to create a safe workout plan (with recommended rest breaks and progressions) tailored to that specific athlete and their sport.


If you have any questions, please call Dynamic Edge Physiotherapy: 203-978-3343.


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