Common Exercise Related Injuries

Weight-bearing exercise such as jogging, running, or even brisk walking can place a lot of stress on joints and muscles. If you are overweight, you may be at greater risk for discomfort, pain, or injury from weight-bearing exercise early in your fitness program or when increasing your level of intensity or duration. Overuse injuries affect most men who exercise from time to time. There are a number of things you can do to prevent common exercise-related injuries such as sprains, strains, inflammation, and pain. Minor injuries usually can be treated with simple first-aid measures (see RICE routine, page 65). However, if you have a more serious injury, such as a broken bone, go directly to a hospital emergency department.

Rubbing or irritation inside your shoe can cause a blister to appear on your foot. Good-fitting athletic shoes can help prevent blisters. However, if a blister develops while you are walking or jogging, wipe the blister and a needle with alcohol to kill any bacteria that are present. Then carefully prick the blister with the needle to let the fluid out. Do not remove the overlying layer of skin; it will help protect the underlying skin. Cover the blister with a bandage. The blister will heal on its own in a few days.

Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. When pain occurs during or after exercise, it usually signals the overuse of a muscle, tendon, or joint. Most overuse injuries respond well to the RICE routine, a first-aid treatment you can perform at home.

Here are descriptions of some common preventable exercise- and sports-related injuries and tips on how to prevent them:


Tendons are fibrous tissues that attach your muscles to your bones. Tendons can become inflamed from overuse, causing pain and swelling in the affected area. For example, running can cause inflammation in your Achilles tendon, which

Exercise and Fitness

64 stretches from the back of the calf to the heel. This inflammation is known as

Staying Achilles tendinitis. The tendons in your forearm that attach to your elbow can

Healthy become inflamed while playing tennis, causing a condition known as tennis elbow. The tendons in your forearm also can become inflamed by other activities, such as bowling or playing softball. Swimming can irritate the tendons in your shoulder, producing an overuse injury known as swimmer's shoulder. Adequate stretching (see page 58) before and after exercise helps prevent all forms of tendinitis. Exercises that strengthen your forearms, such as push-ups and lifting weights, can help prevent tennis elbow. Raising and lowering your heels and standing on your toes can strengthen your calves and prevent Achilles tendinitis. Strength-conditioning exercises (see page 57) can prevent the development of swimmer's shoulder.

Shin Splints

Pain felt along the front or the back of your shin that occurs during or after exercise such as jogging or running is called shin splints. This type of injury occurs when you exercise too much without taking enough rest periods. The best treatment for shin splints is rest. Stretching your legs before and after you exercise is the best way to prevent shin splints.

Plantar Fasciitis

This term refers to the pain and inflammation felt in the arch and heel of your foot when the plantar fascia (the band of tough connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes) becomes partially detached from the heel. This condition often occurs in runners. The pain is usually strongest in the morning and gradually diminishes throughout the day. After using the RICE routine (see page 65), or to prevent this type of injury, try strengthening the muscles in your feet by using your toes to pick up objects off the floor.

Strains and Sprains

Overstretching or tearing of a muscle or a tendon is known as a strain. The hamstring muscle in the back of your thigh is a common site for a type of strain called a hamstring pull. Inadequate stretching before sprinting or distance running contributes to the development of this condition. A sprain occurs when a ligament (a fibrous band of tissue that attaches one bone to another) is pulled or torn. Sprained ankles can occur when you are walking or running, especially if you step into a broken area of a sidewalk or trip over something in your path and your ankle is forced into an abnormal position. You may hear a snapping sound at the time of injury. Pain and swelling follow. Use the RICE routine (see page 65) and see your doctor. For the first 24 hours after a sprain or a strain, avoid applying heat to the affected area—for example, from a heating pad or a hot shower—because heat will increase the swelling.

Stress Fractures 65

Stress fractures are hairline cracks that occur in bones when the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that surround them become weakened by overuse during exercise and can no longer protect the bones. Stress fractures can occur in these bones, especially in your feet, after the repetitive impact of jogging or running. Stress fractures usually heal on their own, but if you experience severe pain, stop exercising and see your doctor as soon as possible.

In general, the best way to prevent exercise-related injury is to start exercising slowly and increase your intensity gradually. Being overly zealous in your workouts, especially in the beginning, will quickly result in an injury that will put you on the sidelines.

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