Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exercise & injury

New athletes often ask me how to tell the difference between an injury and soreness or regular exercise discomfort. 

Here are 5 general rules:
  • Learn to understand what pain is (hear me out on this).  
If it's a sharp, shooting or acute aching feeling that's not normal.  If it's a burning or tired muscle that is ok. If you ever have sharp, shooting or consistently aching joints stop!
  • Are you injured or just have tight, sore or weak muscles?
When you're new to exercise it can be confusing.  For example, a new walker/runner can have weak shins & calves.  During exercise, they'll scream.  After exercise, they'll be sore.  

By progressing, stretching, strengthening & icing those muscles, most people will be fine.  If you ignore it and 'push through the pain' (aka, no pain, no gain) you'll most likely become injured.
  • Enjoy sore muscles.  
If you exercised the day before (or sometimes day of) & your muscles are generally sore (again, not in one spot) when you walk, turn or twist & it lasts only a couple of days you're ok.  You earned it, enjoy! 
  • Listen to your body.  
If you're continuously noticing a problem it's probably a problem, right?  

For example, if you have sore shins for a week, then their ok, then they're sore for a week, etc...it's time to look at what you're doing & figure out why.  Are you over training?  Are you stretching & strengthening?  Terrain too rugged?  Shoes old?  

  • If something lasts a couple of weeks, time to take action.
If you're dealing with pain & it doesn't go away after a few days, don't wait.  Go to a doctor. 

Bottom line, learn to listen to your body.  If you're not sure, ask a professional.  You can start with your trainer who may refer you to see a doctor.  Better safe than sorry!