The popularity of extreme fitness is on the rise, with increasing numbers of participants flocking to intense, high intensity interval training (HIIT) programs like Crossfit and Insanity. These programs tend to focus on functional movements, and combine strength training and cardio intervals to give participants the ability to burn more calories in less time. Athletic individuals are also drawn to extreme obstacle course races like Tough Mudder and high-level competitions such as the Ironman.
Unfortunately, extreme workouts and training for endurance events like these have definite downsides. The combination of severe exertion coupled with an emphasis on speed (sometimes resulting in an overlooking of correct form) can lead to several different types of injuries, one of the most common being overuse injuries.
Types of Overuse Injuries
Extreme conditioning often comes with a significant amount of wear and tear on the body’s muscles and skeleton. Typical overuse injuries include:
Tendonitis: Inflammation of the thick cords that attach bone to muscle.
Muscle damage: Strains, pulls or tears, damage to blood vessels or irritation to nerve endings.
Sore joints: Pain and/or swelling that can last days or months in areas that provide support to bones and help the body move.
Flat foot injuries. Stretched ortorn tendons don’t pull together properly, causing reduced range of motion, swellings, and pain (even in the legs and back).
The Role of Regenerative Therapy
Treating overuse injuries can be challenging because the injury site often remains chronically under-healed. Various factors prevent the injury from fully healing, so the already-weakened area is extremely prone to re-injury.
Regenerative therapy, although relatively new, holds substantial potential for healing these generally chronic injuries. Regenerative therapy combines Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy. PRP and stem cells are injected into the injured area, anti-inflammatory and growth factors promote healing of the affected soft tissue. Regenerative therapy is thought to accelerate the healing by magnifying the body’s own natural healing response of rebuilding damaged tissues.
Problems With Traditional Approaches
Until recently, the most common approaches to treating overuse injuries included the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation), a consistent regimen of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aspirin or ibuprofen, and steroid injections (including Cortisone). While all of these interventions can be successful in the short-term as far as reducing pain, they do not heal the injury. They address only the symptoms and do not offer significant positive long-term results. When all options have been exhausted, patients turn to surgery expecting a full resolution. There are risks inherent in any surgery, including reactions to anesthesia, infection, significant pain and downtime, and the need for repeated surgery.
Benefits of Regenerative Therapy
While traditional approaches to overuse injuries address pain and swelling, they fail to address cellular and collagen degeneration and the resulting deficiency of these soft-tissue building blocks. Regenerative therapy stimulates the building of new connective tissues without the negative side effects of traditional therapies and surgery. As the connective tissues are regenerated stronger than before, patient can actually experience an increased range of motion and activity (whereas traditional treatment methods often reduce the patient’s range of motion).
Along with the chiseled muscle tone, high aerobic capacity, and low body fat that extreme fitness offers, participants can experience traumatic acute injuries as well as chronic overuse injuries. Regenerative Therapy is continually being shown to promote the healing and regrowth of tissues, eliminate pain and restore a patient to his or her optimal activity level.
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