Muscle and Connective Tissue Health & Repair25.09.2012
by Life Enthusiast Staff
From Repetitive Stress and Work-Related Injuries
Muscles and other tissues that support joints weaken when they are not moved enough, causing joints to lose shape and function. Damage occurs on a cellular level every time you exercise (or use your muscles at work), as muscle tears down in order to rebuild.
Along with exercise come aches and pains that may have been induced or aggravated from a previous condition or injury. Building activity into your life is always important, but particularly so if you have arthritis. All categories of exercise (aerobic, strength or flexibility) are beneficial for pain and inflammation sufferers.
Common work injuries include spine disorder, particularly in the heavy machinery industries, and cumulative trauma from repetitive motions which causes carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. The incidence of cumulative trauma continues to increase as computer usage grows.
A well-balanced exercise program consists of strength, endurance and cardiovascular activity.
The dilemma that all healthcare professionals face when treating people is the obvious fact that pain inhibits movement and movement is required for training and working; however, most pain relievers inhibit healing and prolong rehabilitation. The keys to successful therapy are relief of pain and inflammation without inhibited healing.
Aging causes the connective tissues to lose their flexibility. This is due in part to decreased stability of the cell membranes and collagen fibers. This loss of flexibility contributes towards the risk of injury during exercise and other forms of intense activity. Most sports injuries are caused by either accidents or overuse.
To prevent injuries, focus on strengthening the supporting structures of your body.
Injury and age-related decline is generally associated with connective tissue structures such as the ligaments, tendons, and other joint structures. Muscle tissue itself is not affected as often as is thought.
The connective tissues lose flexibility with age due to:
- Decreased production of fluid maintaining long-chain glycosaminoglycan structures
- Decreased stability of cell membrane and extracellular collagen fibers
- Decreased production of glycosaminoglycan structures also results in decreased size of muscle groups.
Connective Tissue Damage
Connective tissue protects and reinforces the muscle fibers from stress and trauma. The protective sheaths receive all the transference of force that occurs during muscle use, and therefore the bulk of the stress associated with athletic activity may result in injuries.
Increase Your Training Capacity
Always warm up and stretch before physical activity. Cold, stiff muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, stationary cycling or by running or walking in place for three to five minutes. Then slowly and gently stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Similarly, always cool down following activity.
Work up to intensity. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of physical activity. As your fitness level improves, you will be able to work out with more intensity without risking injury. Whenever possible, use the "10 percent" rule. When upping your activity level, increase it by no more than 10 percent per week. Use the 10 percent rule as your guide for aerobic training as well as for strength training.
Don't be a "weekend warrior". Trying to fit all your physical activity into two days sets you up for trouble and does not increase your fitness level. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you can't fit this in, break it up into ten-minute sessions of activity. Remember that "moderate" physical activity includes things like walking the dog, working in the garden, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Take lessons and invest in good equipment. Even if you have been playing a sport for a long time, lessons or coaching are a worthwhile investment. Proper form and technique reduce the chance of developing an "overuse" injury like tendonitis or stress fractures as well as a pull or strain. Select the proper shoes for your particular sport and use them only for that sport. Replace them as needed.
Listen to your body. As you grow older, you may find that you are not as flexible as you were, or that physical activities that once seemed pleasurable are now causing you pain. While no one likes to admit that they are growing older, you will be able to prevent injury by toning down your activity to accommodate your body's needs.
Develop a balanced fitness program. Incorporating cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility will keep you from getting bored and lessen your chance of injury. You will also benefit from the balanced nature of this program.
Don't ignore aches and pains. If you feel pain in a body part as a result of activity, rest or reduce your activity for a few days. This will help you avoid more serious problems.
Sustained a injury? The following tips will help your body repair itself in as short a time as possible.
Rest up! It's tough to rest when you're an athlete but you will heal better if you do. If possible, keep up your activities through cross-training. Resume regular activity gradually. Start out slowly, remembering to reduce your "normal" duration/intensity of activity. (If you run, go for a shorter distance; if you lift weights, do fewer reps with a lighter weight.) Stop immediately if you feel any pain.
Eat to Heal! Take note of your nutritional status. It is especially important to eat high quality protein to help repair the tissues. You may want to consider a vitamin-mineral supplement as well, especially if you are unsure if your diet includes what nutrients you may need.
How Common Are Sports & Work Related Injuries?
Sports related injuries involving 42% of children and young adults are the leading cause of unintentional injury. Injuries sustained during athletic pursuits account for 23 percent of all traumas, second only to motor vehicle injuries, and are the leading cause of death in children. Among adults, the exact figures for these types of injuries are not known.
Work-related injury is a major public health problem with back pain as one of the most common causes of disability. The most common forms of back pain are:
- Mechanical back pain (e.g., lumbosacral sprain, lumbar facet syndrome) - dull aching pain caused by an injury which radiates to buttocks, knees or groin.
- Radicular (root) pain - caused by herniated or ruptured disc. Pain is localized in the back but travels down the legs to the foot.
- Post surgical pain - generally a combination of mechanical and radicular pain.
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