Want to get back to the gym but scared of hurting yourself?
Exercising with injuries: Where is the boundary between helpful and harmful?
Our Osteopath Eddie Clark gives you his opinion on this contentious yet common issue.
In my practice we often see people who are having trouble keeping up with their exercise programs because they have suffered an injury and it is not going away. These niggles can be serious issues for people. They can lead to individuals falling out of exercise routines, sometimes permanently.
In my experience the most common types of injuries that stop people from exercising are recurring shoulder or knee injuries. It’s also common to see people who are hampered by chronic tendon issues too. These commonly affect the Achilles, the knee, the elbow or the shoulder tendons.
I find that the older patient groups most commonly know this difficulty. Its especially prevalent in peri or post menopausal women. We also know that the dropping level of oestrogen in their bodies predisposes them to developing tendon issues.
So, when is it not a good idea to keep going to the gym? My rule here is common sense. As a rule of thumb if your pain is worse after the gym – either immediately or over the next 48 hours, then it’s not doing you any good.
I will often see people who are in the middle of a program of high intensity exercise, often a time-limited weight loss program like the Michelle Bridges 12 week program and they won’t consider stopping, either because they’ve put too much work into the effort this far and feel like stopping would constitute giving up. Sometimes they are paying a premium for training with a personal trainer or high intensity class like cross fit and stopping will lead to them getting less value out of their investment. They know the gym is hurting them, but just haven’t been willing to admit it. It’s really important to explain to these people that it might not mean stopping all together, just fine-tuning some exercise or swapping some things in favour of others.
The trouble with a lot of these injuries is that they can become more chronic if you continually mess with the healing process. It really is in your best interests to stop and reassess after a few days rest whether the injury has truly gone. If you are still getting pain then it’s best to make an appointment to see a professional. It really can be a simple matter – especially if you can get in early with your problem.
As an Osteopath we really put a lot of time into diagnosing people’s issues accurately and gaining a really good appreciation of all the factors which might be influencing it. Once we have identified the issue it’s often a case of a few minor modifications to the exercise routine and you can return to exercising without aggravation. It’s a high priority for us to get you back exercising or training fast – as soon as it’s safe to do so. But do yourself a favour: if your injury has been niggling for some time then get a professional to look at it. You won’t regret it.
Dr Eddie Clark Osteopath