Nothing can stop your HIIT game worse than an injury, especially one that can be avoided. We have all done it at one point or another. We either neglect the warm-up, forget our shoes and go barefoot, or skip our stretching [insert plethora of other excuses…].  Well fret no more!  We have some excellent tips to avoid that future injury and keep your workouts and you going strong.  We have so many excuses that can get in our way for a workout, don’t let an injury be one of them!

An Overuse Injury is defined as: “otherwise known as cumulative trauma disorders, are described as tissue damage that results from repetitive demand over the course of time. The term refers to a vast array of diagnoses, including occupational, recreational, and habitual activities.”

The following tissues can be involved:

  • Bone (i.e.: stress fractures)
  • Tendons: tendonitis
  • Bursa: burisitis
  • Musculotendonous junction (i.e.: Dequervain’s syndrome)
  • Periosteum (i.e.: shin splints)

A study performed on elite soccer players found that the majority of injuries were overuse injuries and occurred in the lower extremities. With the top injuries occurring in the calf and ankle, knee, then thigh.³

Indications of potential overuse injury:

  • Pain at the beginning of a workout that decreases throughout (continue activity, as long as pain does not worsen)
  • Pain at the beginning and end of the workout (modify to pain-free activity)
  • Pain that worsens with the workout (cease activity temporarily until pain reduces)
  • Constant pain (cease activity temporarily until pain is abolished)

Causes of Overuse Injuries

  1. Poor Form: Performing movements without proper form results in strain on the muscles, joints, and ligaments. Movements that come to mind include: squats, overhead shoulder movements, and flexion/rotational movements (i.e.: sit-up twists, certain plyometrics). Correcting your form, allows your muscles to work as intended without placing excessive strain on one single part of the system.
  2. Training too quickly: Slowly increasing your training by 10% per week via: time, weight, distance.  This allows your body to acclimate to the physical stress demands of your workout at a safe pace in order for you to be able to perform workouts with proper form.
  3. Warm-up/cool-down: These items are vital in your workout and should be included at all times. A proper warm-up will get blood flowing to your muscles and prepare them to handle the physical demands of your workout. A cool-down will help to slowly decrease your heart rate while also lengthening muscles to decrease the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (D.O.M.S.) and prevent decreased ROM.
  4. Selective Weakness: Train your stabilizing muscles. Common injuries seen in my practice include rotator cuff, glutes, and core weakness.  These areas provide stability in order for your extremities to move efficiently and effectively.  When instability exists at the foundation of the movement, the movement can easily become uncontrolled resulting in poor form and injury.  A stable base provides the support needed for the lever arm to move as a whole with strength and power.

Real Talk: So How Do I Implement This?

  • Relative rest: avoid the stressor for 3-7 days in order to allow the muscle/joint/ligament to recover adequately. Placing stress on an already stressed muscle can lead to further injury.
  • Ice: Use of an icepack can aid in the recovery process by decreasing the inflammatory response (Tip: place on affected area 2-3x/day for the first 3 days, no greater than 20 minutes. Then once or twice a day after that, as needed).
  • Perform pain-free strengthening/gentle stretching of the affected muscle:  Again, we don’t want to prolong the injury, so avoid painful movements over the next 2-3 weeks, then slowly increase your training as noted above.
  • Cross-Train: Training other areas of the body and different types of training (i.e.: endurance, speed training, core workouts) can enhance overall performance and provide strength to smaller muscles that are not focused on with sports-specific training.

How do you avoid injuries? We’d love to hear from you, comment below!


  1. E-Medicine: Overuse Injuries
  2. Overuse Injuries – Structures
  3. Heart rate-based training intensity and its impact on injury incidence among elite-level professional soccer players.