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8 Common PT Injuries (And How to Avoid Them)

  • Published
  • By Guard Your Health, Army National Guard Chief Surgeon's Office
Physical training (PT) injuries that result from improper exercise techniques are a lot more frequent than many would think. Here is a list of eight of the most common PT injuries and steps you can take to avoid them. With these steps in mind, you might just end up passing that next PT test with flying colors.

What Is It? Shin splint are caused by inflammation, or swelling, due to injury of the soft tissues in the lower leg and cause a sharp pain along the shin. Shin splints are most often caused by overtraining.

How to Avoid It? Try a moderate running routine. You can do this by varying your running terrain by running on softer surfaces, such as a trail, if possible (not just pavement or treadmill). Also, replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles and allow for plenty of recovery time before, during, and after workouts.

What Is It? Calf muscle pulls occur when the calf muscle begins to tear away from the Achilles tendon. Calf muscle injuries can occur when high-intensity workouts, such as running or biking, are performed too frequently.

How to Avoid It? Avoid raising your exercise intensity by more than 10 percent each week. For example, if you ran for 30 minutes the first week, the next week you should increase your run to about 33 minutes, the week after should be 36 minutes and so on. Invest in athletic shoes with cushioned insoles to help reduce calf muscle stress. Also, allow extra time to warm-up before beginning any exercises.

What Is It? This injury occurs when the back muscles are stretched too far and can cause small tears in the tissue that could possibly affect the spinal cord.

How to Avoid It? Regularly do hamstring stretches after working out to prevent your back muscles from tightening. Always maintain good posture and proper form during exercise, and incorporate exercises that strengthen your core, such as planks and sit-ups, into your fitness routine.

What Is It? A plantar fasciitis injury causes irritation to the plantar fascia ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot. The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is an overload of physical activity or exercise.

How to Avoid It? Choose shoes that are well-fitted and provide sufficient cushioning and support for the heel, arch, and ball of the foot. The cushioning and support will help to distribute weight evenly throughout the foot. Also, check your running form, as this type of issue can be caused by over-striding (heavy heel-striking).

What Is It? A hamstring strain is what happens when one or more of the muscles located in the back of your thigh have been stretched too far.

How to Avoid It? Establish an effective warm-up routine before exercising to help loosen the muscles in your legs and prepare for your workout.

What Is It? This injury happens when the large tendon, located in the back of the ankle, is inflamed. Achilles tendinitis most commonly develops when you increase your training intensity at a rapid pace. You are also likely to suffer from Achilles tendinitis if stretching is not incorporated into your physical training.

How to Avoid It? Only increase your exercise levels in small increments to gradually build up your intensity. Also remember to do dynamic stretches before your workout and static stretches after your workout.

What Is It? A rotator cuff injury can range in stages from a basic inflammation to a complete tear around the shoulder joint. While most rotator cuffs tear over time, they can also tear suddenly.

How to Avoid It? Stretch your arms after you warm up and after every workout session to strengthen the shoulder joint muscle to reduce the chances of a rotator cuff injury.

What Is It? A groin pull is caused by putting too much stress on muscles located in the groin and inner thigh. Not warming-up enough and extreme overuse of inner thigh and groin muscles while preforming squat exercises can result in groin pulls.

How to Avoid It? Warm up before each workout and properly stretch after any squatting exercises that involve this muscle group.

Although these eight injuries are different, there is a common theme when it comes to prevention. Many of these injuries can be avoided by following proper warm-up and cool down techniques, allowing for plenty of rest between workouts, avoiding overuse or overtraining, and wearing the proper equipment.