Overuse injury with rotational sport

Reduce your Injury Risk

By Hollie Maskell, Physiotherapist, BSc

What is rotational sport?

Rotational sport is physical activity that involves twisting of the trunk to transfer forces from the lower body to the upper body. Examples include tennis, squash, badminton, swimming, and cricket, to name a few. When the sport involves rotation in the upper body particularly in our arms overuse injuries can be common.

What is overuse injury?

An overuse injury is a type of muscle or joint injury that is caused by repetitive trauma. The most common overuse injury is a tendinopathy which is irritation to a tendon. The causes of an overuse injury can be:

  • Training errors. This could be a sudden increase in exercise, exercising too much or exercising too fast.  
  • Technique errors. This is having the incorrect technique in your chosen sport. 

Examples of common rotational sport overuse injuries are lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) and rotator cuff tendinopathies.

Why is overuse injury common in rotational sport?

Due to the repetitive rotation movement of your upper limb it can be common for muscles to not be strong enough to meet the demand of the repetitive load which can lead to a tendinopathy.  

How do we treat an overuse injury?

Treatment involves gradually strengthening the tendons so you can deal with the loads you put them through. It may also involve periods of rest from your chosen activity until pain levels have settled. Time is also required to ensure enough progression has been made in your rehab programme. Seeing a physiotherapist can help advise and guide you through the correct rehab process.

How do we prevent it?

  • Ensure you have the correct technique in your chosen sport.
  • Pacing yourself. If you are new to an activity, start gradually.
  • Progressively increase your activity levels if you want to change the intensity or duration.
  • Mix up your routine with strengthening work and different forms of cardio.

Leslie Abrahams