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What is soft tissue injury

Soft Tissue Injury

A soft tissue injury (STI) occurs when there is damage to the muscles, ligaments or tendons within the body. These injuries generally involve a fracture, sprain, strain, a single blow causing bruising, or from overuse of a particular body part.

There are two types of injury;

1. Acute Injury

An acute injury is damage to the body incurred by accident. They can cause a lot of damage to the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments and may result in immediate pain, swelling and loss of function. Being hit, falling or colliding are some examples of activity that could lead to an acute injury.

2. Chronic Injury

A chronic injury is damage to the body that is as a result of overuse or aging and are caused by continuous stress on an area. This is also referred to as Overuse Syndrome. Examples of chronic injuries are tennis or golfers elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints and achilles tendonitis.

Causes of soft tissue injury

The causation factors of sports injuries are either intrinsic or extrinsic. It is vital to identify the cause of the injury as this will assist in identifying the most appropriate rehabilitation programme, speed recovery and prevent or limit the chance of the injury reoccurring.

Intrinsic or athlete dependent factors

These relate to various aspects of your physical make up including previous injury, flexibility, strength and leg length difference. They are also factors you are able to control in order to prevent injury.

• Previous Injury – the association between previous injury and injury occurrence is significant.

• Flexibility – overly tight muscles reduce the range of motion which can lead to an increased risk of tearing or straining of muscles.

• Strength – through sport specific weight training the risk of injury is greatly reduced. A weight lifter who tries to lift a weight way above their physical capability is likely to suffer some form of injury.

• Leg length difference – this may cause excessive ground reaction forces mainly in the shorter limbs as it has further to go to reach the ground. This can lead to excessive strain on the joints, muscles and ligaments of the body.

Extrinsic or environment dependent factors

These relate to aspects of your training programme, technique, equipment, environment and surfaces.

• Training Programme – when deciding how often, how hard and for how long you train you need to consider the impact on your muscles and joints. It is vital to slowly increase your training programme to give your body time to recover and get used to the level of activity. It is also important to include warm up and warm down periods during the training programme. The warm up prepares the muscles and joints for exercise whilst the warm down lowers the heart rate.

• Equipment – wearing the proper equipment is vital in the prevention of injuries. This includes the use of clothing, footwear and protection such as headgear. If you use footwear that is worn and doesn’t provide the correct level of support this may lead to various injuries.

• Technique – if your technique is wrong you are likely to suffer injury. This includes using the wrong technique for a throwing event, when carrying out a tackle or when lifting a weight. Overuse injuries are often caused by the repetitive use of a poor technique.

• Environment and surface – due to exercising in very hot or cold environments over a long period of time. This could lead to dehydration caused by heat and a lack of water or hypothermia caused by excessive cold. The type of surface can also increase the chance of injury such as a hard surface increasing the impact on the joints or an icy surface causing slippage.

Other causes of soft tissue injury include;

• Tensile Stress -Tensile stress is when the muscle contracts and it pulls on the tendons at both ends, which stretch a little. So the tendons are under tensile stress.

• Torsional Stress – An example of torsional stress is when you twist your body from side to side. Golf is a common cause of spinal torsion due to the action carried out during the golf swing.

• Compression – This is where two opposing forces are acting on a structure of the body which can lead to soft tissue injury. An example would be when a person jumps from a height and lands on the ground. The force of your body is pushing you down whilst the ground is pushing you up.

What is Overtraining?


Overtraining is what happens when you put your body under more physical stress than it is capable of taking. This leads to the body suffering stress and physical trauma at a far greater speed than it can repair itself.

Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining

1. Persistent muscle soreness – you are not giving your muscles time to recover which in turn effects the results in your ability to get stronger or fitter.
2. Persistent fatigue – if you do not give your body time to repair itself and rest your body will remain in a state of fatigue.
3. Elevated heart rate – even during easier workouts the heart rate may be faster than you would expect and it may take longer for your heart rate to return to normal after exercise.
4. Reduced heart rate variability – when heart rate variability is low this is a sign of greater stress and lower resiliency…
5. Increased susceptibility to infections – overtraining can leave your body in a catabolic state which lowers your immunity and increases your chances of becoming ill.
6. Increased evidence of injuries – due to the fact that you are not giving your body time to repair you start training in a weakened state which can easily lead to an increased chance of injury.
7. Irritability – overtraining effects your stress hormones including cortisol and epinephrine. This hormonal imbalances can cause mood swings and irritability.
8. Depression and mental breakdown – if you are unable to train or compete as a result of over training, combined with an imbalance in hormones and a lack of sleep, can lead to severe psychological problems.
9. Cessation of Progress – Despite an increase in intensity and effort overtraining can lead to not only a cessation on progress but potentially to a decline in fitness and strength.
10. Addiction to training – Some people become addicted to the physiological and/or psychological effects of training. One thought process for this is that the person gets addicted to the natural endorphins and dopamine generated and regulated by exercise.
11. Lack of motivation – this can be caused by a lack of progress or injuries.
12. Irregular or absent menstruation, weight loss, constipation or diarrhoea – low energy caused by overtraining can lead to nutrient deficiencies such as iron deficiency anaemia which can harm both health and physical performance. Other complications can involve the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, nervous or reproductive systems.
13. Insomnia – if you do a lot of aerobic exercise and have over trained, your sympathetic system can remain excited which will lead to restlessness and an inability to sleep properly.
Rest is key to prevent overtraining. The rest period required following hard training is up to 36 hours. Without that rest time your body cannot regenerate. Other solutions to overtraining include, reduction in volume, massage and addressing deficiencies in nutrients.