Repetitive Strain

Q: Is it healthy to do the exact same set of movements for the same amount of time every day?

Soft tissue injuries occur either by a single abrupt, forceful impact or repeated lower magnitude loads that weaken the tissue over time. Repetitive stress injuries account for 50% of the injuries associated with exercise and sport (Schechtman & Bader, 1997). In yoga, it is not uncommon for hamstring tendons to fatigue to the repetitive load of a forward fold practiced over several years (Mitchell, 2015). It is assumed that low load repetitive stress injuries progressively can lead to any of three grades of connective (soft) tissue injuries (Levangie & Norkin, 2011).

With regard to flexibility, it should be mentioned that joint positions that are neglected in movement training or daily life may eventually become inaccessible due to the adaptive nature of the body (“use it or lose it”). Nevertheless, repetitive stress injuries can be avoided through conservative increase in the magnitude, duration, direction, location, rate, and frequency of the load.

Stretching should be varied in order to reach different fascial tissue components, including slow passive stretches at different angles as well as more dynamic stretches. In sum, movement should be varied and creative, and at best include fascia oriented training, muscular strength work, cardiovascular training and coordination exercises (Schleip & Müller, 2013).

This article is the fifth of a six-part biomechanics series in which I share excerpts from a recent paper I wrote for my Advanced Teacher Training with Tatjana Mesar.

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