If we are active, then we’ve probably experienced some type of injury. It’s something that can happen to anyone, even if we try to avoid it.

Injury vs. Soreness

It is possible that you may think you have an injury when you are just sore. This may affect what is safe for you to do in terms of exercise.

Some pain after exercise is expected, especially when you are starting to workout. The pain, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), usually comes a day or two after exercising. You might worry that you have an injury when you experience this soreness, but it is usually your body’s response to a new kind of exercise, an especially hard workout, or working out when you are not warmed up enough.

DOMS can usually be treated with anti-inflammatory medication and rest. If you want to keep active, exercise usually does not need to be limited, though it may be uncomfortable. To get the most out of your next workout, though, you may need to rest.

Exercising With an Injury

If you have a true injury, you should see a healthcare practitioner to make sure it is diagnosed and treated. You should then work with the provider to find a routine that promotes healing. Some injuries may call for you to take a break from activity altogether.

Listen to Your Health Care Provider

Advice from a health care provider about exercising with an injury will depend on many factors, including where the injury is, how severe it is, and a person’s general health.

Your health care provider may suggest that you do different exercises, continue your routine but in a different way, or stop certain activities entirely until your condition gets better.

Your health care provider can help create a resistance training program to keep you strong during your recovery. In addition to making recommendations about activities, he or she may refer you to a physical therapist who can suggest exercises to heal your injury and also help strengthen the rest of your body.

Modify Wisely

If you have an injury to your knee, your healthcare provider may tell you to avoid cardio or lower-body strength routines. You can still work on your upper body unless your provider tells you not to. Instead of standing up to workout, try doing a routine while sitting down or laying down so that you don’t put pressure on the injured area.

If you’ve injured your upper body, try focusing on lower-body exercises, and avoid exercises that require use of the injured area. For example, if you’ve hurt your arm, don’t do exercises with hand weights for a few days.

If your lower body is injured, you can replace exercises that focus on lower-body strength with ones that focus on upper-body strength. As always, consult with your doctor or physical therapist to see what would be best for your individual situation.

Don’t Work Through the Pain

Do not give in to the temptation to return to your regular routine even if you are feeling better. If you experience pain in the injured area of your body, or somewhere new, stop immediately – even if the pain occurs while you are doing exercises that your doctor or physical therapist recommended.

If you are experiencing more pain or new pain, you should speak with your doctor or physical therapist. If the pain persists or begins while you are working out, you might be able to fix the issue by trying a different exercise. However, sometimes it is best to stop altogether, especially if the injury is making it hard to maintain proper form.

Give Yourself Time to Recover

If you injury yourself and your healthcare provider recommends rest, it can be frustrating to skip workouts, but it’s important to listen to your body. Pressing on and continuing to exercise can prolong a full recovery and worsen your injury.

If you have an injury, you may be able to use a wrap, brace, or splint for support. Make sure that any supportive device you wear fits properly. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or trainer for recommendations.

If you’re returning to exercising after a break, you may need to reduce the intensity or frequency of your workouts to give your body time to recover in between sessions.

Prevent Future Injuries

It is important to take some time to assess your routine and identify why the injury occurred in order to prevent future injuries. You should consider why you may have sustained an injury and make any modifications you feel are necessary. A personal trainer can help you with making these decisions.

Perhaps someone monitoring your workout could have helped you avoid injury by actively ensuring your safety with weights. You also want to avoid pushing yourself too hard or too far past your current limits. A proper warm-up and correct form are also precautions you can take to help prevent and avoid injury.

You may be neglecting other areas of your body by focusing too much on one type of exercise. It’s important to have a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups.

Injuries You Should Never Try to Train Through

If you’re dedicated to your workouts and see results, it can be tough to take a break even if your body is telling you to.

If you’re continuing to exercise despite feeling pain, you’re more likely to lose progress than if you took a break or talked to a physical therapist, says Janet Hamilton, an exercise physiologist.

If you experience pain while exercising, it’s important to listen to your body and make changes to your routine as needed to avoid injury. According to Hamilton, if you ignore pain and keep pushing yourself, you’re more likely to end up with multiple injuries.

If you’re experiencing any of these six common exercise injuries, it’s time to take a break. Back off with these expert-approved strategies when you start hearing your body talk.

Stress Fractures

Microscopic breaks are tiny cracks in your bones. They commonly occur in the feet, pelvis, or lower leg.  Symptoms of microscopic breaks include pain that gets worse when you press on the area, single-leg hopping, or running.

Why They Happen

Stress fractures occur when bones are exposed to more stress than they can handle. This is often the result of quickly increasing the intensity of high-impact exercises, such as running and plyometrics. There are several warning signs to be aware of that may indicate a stress fracture is developing.

Pump the Breaks

If you keep stressing your bone, the tiny fracture could turn into a big break that would require things like a cast, bed rest, or surgery. Julie Khan, a physical therapist and specialist in sports medicine, says it’s important to see a specialist if you’ve had a stress fracture because there’s a high likelihood of having another one. They can do blood tests to check things like hormone levels, calcium, and vitamin D levels. Until you can run and jump without pain, do low-impact activities like biking, swimming, and strength training.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as “runner’s knee”, is a condition in which the kneecap rubs against the thighbone. Common symptoms include pain at the front of the knee, which can be aggravated by activities such as going down stairs, squatting, or after strenuous exercise.

Pump the Breaks

Working out with runner’s knee can cause more damage to the cartilage under your kneecap, and once it’s gone, it can’t be replaced. Talk to a sports physical therapist to help you figure out which strength-training exercises will help get your kneecap back in alignment. Some exercises that can help are lateral walks, glute bridges, side-plank clams, and front planks. If you’re in pain, you can try cycling, swimming, or using the elliptical to maintain your cardiovascular fitness.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is the strongest and thickest tendon in the body. It is also frequently injured. Acute injuries can range from mild damage of the tendon to a complete rupture, which requires surgical repair. The pain is often felt at the heel and back of the ankle (you may notice a bump of scar tissue), which can feel tight or swollen. Discomfort may decrease a bit as the area loosens, making it tempting to continue to work out through the pain. But each step you take puts stress on the tendon, making it harder for it to heal.

Why It Happens

The Achilles tendon is most likely to be injured when too much force is exerted on it, usually by people who have weak calf muscles. This is more common in men than in women, according to Weiss.

Hip Pain

Khan says that there are many different causes of hip pain in endurance athletes. These can include things like hip impingement, gluteal tendinitis, iliotibial band syndrome, and tendinitis. Additionally, athletes may also experience hip pain due to tears or stress fractures.

Why It Happens

Khan says that hip pain can have many causes, including decreased core and gluteal stability, increasing exercise intensity and duration before your bones and muscles are strong enough to handle it, or even how your bones sit in their joints. She recommends seeing a sports physical therapist to help determine the source of the pain and develop a plan to address it.

Pump the Breaks

No matter what exercise you are doing, your hips are the foundation so any pain can easily cause problems with your alignment and introduces the risk of new injuries. The tendons in your hips don’t have a good blood supply so they won’t heal quickly if you keep stressing them with exercise.

Movements that cause pain should be avoided, and a specialist should be consulted about how to train the core and glutes to improve pelvic stability. Exercises like bridges, lateral walks, pain-free lunges and squats, and single-limb balances are necessary for promoting core and hip strength, Khan says.


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