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Can Exercise Hurt Me? Risk Factors for Injury and the Pathway to Pain Relief

Performing exercise on a routine basis is probably as important as the type of food we consume daily. Similar to how a bad diet can result in significant health problems down the road, practicing bad exercise can also have major negative consequences for individuals on a short-term basis and in the long run.

The benefits of exercise are multifold. Improvement in musculoskeletal function, agility, cardiovascular function, lung function, and a general sense of well-being are only a handful of the long list of beneficial effects of exercise. Having a proper routine may ward off type II diabetes and a whole host of metabolic issues.

Exercise & Injuries Along the to Pathway Pain Relief

Many studies have examined exercise-induced injuries. Aside from the general population, the U.S. military has looked at this issue thoroughly as maintaining a basic level of fitness is a requirement for all active-duty personnel.

So the short answer to the above question is a definite YES. But what does that mean for the average person? It means one has to be very aware of potential injuries that can be sustained while exercising, and to that end, one needs to choose the right form, equipment, and venue to do his or her exercises.

Considering the short nature of this post, let’s focus on general fitness and aerobic activities instead of weight lifting and body sculpting. For the average person, exercise amounts to activating multiple muscle groups rhythmically during which one increases pumping action of the heart and respiratory rate. This can also place a lot of stress on a variety of joints. Ligaments and tendons, which attach bones and muscles to each other also get stressed during exercise.

In most cases, inflammation of these structures results in acute pain and swelling. Excessive pressure, uneven and uncontrolled repetitive motion around these structures can result in minor and at times major tears and micro-fractures acutely, and in some cases can lead to osteoarthritis and chronic pain. Be careful not to trade the health of one organ for the demise of another!

Engaging in improper exercise techniques while trying to promote a healthier cardiovascular system should not be done at the expense of destroying joints in the legs and disks in the spine and ending up with unnecessary chronic suffering.

Risk Factors for Injury

There are a number of risk factors for injury. These include, and are not limited to:

  • Gender, age, smoking, and history of previous injuries
  • Women are at more risk for an injury from a similar set of exercises
  • Older individuals and those with previous injuries are more prone to injury
  • Smokers are also at higher risk

The following points need to be remembered:

  • Start slowly and increase gradually.
  • Individualize the exercise.
  • Allow sufficient recovery time.
  • Have realistic goals.
  • Stop and seek care once injured.

Persistent pain needs to be evaluated by a physician to rule out serious injury. Conservative treatments with therapy and medications may be implemented. In more painful and refractory situations, a variety of specialized injections can be performed by a pain specialist to help alleviate pain.