Repetitive overuse injuries on the rise

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COLUMBIA - Student athlete overuse injuries are still on the rise, but everyone is at risk.

"It doesn't have to be athletes necessarily, you could talk about somebody who sits at a desk all day and types all day," said physical therapist Lynnette Khoo-Summers. "They could have repetitive overuse injuries from sitting and typing all day. It happens to all of us in one way shape or form."

Khoo-Summers said overuse injuries happen when someone works the same muscle or muscle group repetitively. She said it does not matter what the person is doing, if someone overuses the same muscle over and over, he or she is likely going to have an overuse injury.

She said there are studies being conducted of how to prevent overuse injuries, but the biggest concern is recognizing the injury and treating it as quickly as possible. 

The way Khoo-Summers handles overuse injuries is by looking at how the athlete or person moves. 

"I am going to watch you kick that ball and see if there is anything unusual or poorly moving kind of situation," Khoo-Summers said. "And we will try to correct it, so that in hopes that you don't injure yourself in the future."

MU club rugby coach Jamie Marmalejo has been an active athlete throughout her many years of schooling. She has dislocated her shoulders many times in past years, and the overuse injuries still cause her pain.

"Its like, when I am sleeping and just trying to relax, sometimes my shoulders just pop out of socket," Marmalejo said. "It can be really painful."

Marmalejo sees the team's trainer on a regular basis and tapes and braces her shoulders during games to prevent further injury.

"I can spend $10 on tape for just one game," she said. 

Marmalejo said she continues to play the sport despite the pain she is in because she loves it.

"I fell in love with the game. I fell in love with the girls. I just fell in love with everything about it," she said. "I don't know what I would do if I couldn't play."

Khoo-Summers has worked with athletes like Marmalejo who love the sport too much to stop playing. She said in those situations, the only way for them to get better is to continue their workouts and rest every now and then. Some of Khoo-Summers's patients do not always listen, though.

"You try and give them your wisdom of treating patients and say, 'You should try to do these exercises because we are working against that repetitive overuse injury to the same muscles,'" Khoo-Summers said. "'We need you to not use those muscles as much or find other muscles to work on so you don't come back for another injury at that point.'"

Khoo-Summers said braces are a catch-22 in physical therapy and can help or hinder someone with an overuse injury. 

"If you are in an acute flare up of an injury, braces should help, but when you are back to where it is not painful, you don't want to put on a brace, because then you are not using your muscles," she said.

Khoo-Summers said tape can also help, and she can show patients how to tape up an ankle or a knee but with back injuries, a brace is almost always easier for the patient to put on herself.