Workout injuries can happen to anyone—even if you don’t work out. Regular exercise is an essential component of healthy living, but with any type of exercise comes the potential for harm. In order to participate in the physical activities you love, you need to understand how to identify an exercise injury and know how to prevent future injuries from happening. Through planning and education, you can enjoy your workouts, injury-free.
The first thing you’ll need to know is how to tell an injury from normal workout aches and pains. While exercising, you may experience a burning pain deep in your muscle bellies and that is a normal form of discomfort that can occur during intense exercise. Your limbs may feel wobbly or fatigued, but that’s probably a sign that your body is producing lactic acid (a chemical that breaks down carbohydrates for energy). In contrast, exercise injuries are more noticeable. Here are some signs that you may have an injury:
1) Sudden, Sharp Pain
Sharp or immediate pain is your first indicator that something is wrong. While discomfort or burning is often expected, it’s not normal to feel pain while working out. Pain is one of the body’s best indicators that something isn’t right.
Sometimes you’ll even hear when the damage is done. People have reported hearing a snap or a pop when doing bicep curls or other exercises that strain your muscles.
In addition to immediate pain and popping sounds, you may experience immediate swelling in the injured area (the joints, especially) which should be cause for concern.
4) Prolonged Muscle Soreness
Lastly, it’s normal to experience muscle soreness, especially in the two days following an intense workout, but if your soreness continues, it could be a sign that you’ve torn some of your muscle fibers too well.
5) Restricted Range of Motion
Having trouble moving your arms or stretching is a sign that something isn’t right. Having trouble lifting your arms over your head, turning your head, bending down, or twisting your hips are all examples of a decreased range of motion. In addition to being an indicator of an injury, a restricted range of motion can be dangerous on its own. Seemingly simple tasks like stepping out of the bathtub or driving a car could become deadly.
If you think you may have injured yourself while exercising, there are a couple things you should do. First, stop doing whatever you’re doing. If you think you’ve injured yourself, don’t keep exercising. While it sounds like a no-brainer, it’s very important to not further exacerbate your injury with more exercise. That means all exercise, too! If you injured yourself doing one type of exercise, don’t just switch to another form of exercise. Stop, listen to your body, and figure out what might be happening.
Some symptoms require immediate medical attention. If you hear any pops or snaps in your body, followed by pain, you should probably get your injury examined by a physician. Some symptoms require immediate medical attention. If you experience any numbness, tingling down the leg, restricted range of motion, or other concerning symptoms, you should have your injury checked out by a doctor immediately. Some other injuries, involving bruising or soreness can maybe wait until the next day or the next 48 hours for follow-up with an orthopedic specialist.
“Listen to your body and do not push through pain. That is not the goal for exercise or aging gracefully,” said Certified Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Tina Keasey of TPMG Strive Fitness and Sports Performance.
Most importantly, you’ll want to know how to prevent exercise injuries from happening in the first place. While some circumstances are out of control, there are many ways you can protect yourself from activity-related injury. Here are some tips for avoiding future exercise injuries:
– Be prepared
Have a plan going into your workout about what you’d like to do and what you want to accomplish. Learn how to use exercise machines properly. Maybe follow a popular exercise routine from professional trainers. Those interested in a local 5k might be interested in running plans. Recognize your exercise goal and do your research.
– Ask questions
There is no downside to knowing more about the exercise you’re performing. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to speak up. Using workout equipment incorrectly can be dangerous for you and those around you, so it’s better to be safer than sorry.
– Learn from a professional
Getting help from a professional can be extremely helpful for those just starting out, those looking to change things up, and those who may be coming back from previous exercise injuries. A personal trainer with a professional background and an understanding of your unique limitations can be extremely helpful.
No one wants an injury to interrupt their exercise routine. If you’re looking to get back on your feet after an injury or are interested in preventing future exercise injuries, the dedicated fitness professionals at TPMG Strive Fitness and Sports Performance can help you. Their medically-based workout program helps those who’ve experienced exercise injuries or other ailments rebound and find a fitness plan that fits their needs. Take someone who’s recently had a total knee replacement and wants to get back to golfing with their friends. A Strive professional will be able to show them how to twist their body, how to drive, and how to use their full range of motion to do the things they used to do.
About Tina Keasey, ATC/L, CSCS
Tina Keasey, ATC/L, CSCS is a licensed and certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the Virginia Board of Medicine. She is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Throughout her career, she has worked with the 2001 Junior Olympics, 2003 Senior Olympics, several semi-professional soccer and basketball players, as well as NCAA track and field champions. She looks forward to helping clients at TPMG Strive Fitness and Sports Performance find the right fitness routine to fit their lifestyle, as she believes it is an integral part of living your fullest life.