Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

September 19, 2012

Exercise injury prevention

I love the increase of motivation and activity I see when autumn rolls around.

School promotes a more regular schedule, the weather is wonderful for exercising bodies, “eating” holidays are three months away and people are excited to move.

It’s a time of year I can back off the “motivational” speeches and ride the fall fitness frenzy. With this increase in activity also comes the potential for an increase in aches and pains, so my new concern and point of care for exercisers during this surge becomes injury prevention. Use these tips to help avoid physical set-backs to your fitness momentum.

• Start Slow. Improving your body should be progressive and increase in intensity over time. If you haven’t been exercising or are ramping things up, move forward slowly to allow your body time to adapt and improve. This is especially true for the connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) and bones that make up your joints; which don’t adapt as quickly as muscles. Give them time to heal after exercise. You can always go harder the next time.

• Learn about pain. Pain is a great educator. When it comes to movement, pain is how we collect information about our bodies and how they are operating, so it is important to know the difference between constructive pain and destructive pain. Constructive pain presents itself as a “burning” sensation that accumulates slowly during exercise throughout an entire muscle, and then subsides after activity ceases. Destructive pain comes on instantly, is extremely intense and specific to a small area. This type of pain will often stick around after you’ve stopped the movement as well. In both cases, heed the intensity of the signal, but make sure to collect more information when destructive pain is involved and consider modifying the activity, or stopping for the day.

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