Pushing Yourself to the Limits
Overdoing Your Home Workout Can Lead to Injury
We all know the importance of working out and the health benefits that come with exercise – it slows the aging process, improves brain health, relieves stress and generally makes you happier.
Since the arrival of COVID-19 last spring, activity levels have shifted for many. Gyms have been closed for large chunks of time, forcing people to exercise from home. Couple that will the fact that people are also working more from home than the office, there is plenty of time to exercise. While that may sound good, the reality is people are overdoing it – working out too long or too often, which can lead to injury and sometimes medical treatment such as physical therapy.
“If you are starting to work from home or work out, that’s putting your body in new positions that they are not usually used to," said Robyn Johnson, physical therapist, OSF HealthCare. "And if you are going from one end of the spectrum to the next, those structures aren’t primed and ready to do that, which in turn can lead to injury.”
Physical therapists are seeing patients who are straining or injuring muscles while doing cardio like running. Other common injuries include back pain or neck pain from weightlifting. Shoulder, knee and hips injuries are also possible, depending on the extent of your workout. Johnson tells her patients if the soreness from working out doesn’t go away after a couple of days, or you have problems raising your arms or getting out of bed, it may be time to seek medical help.
“You can have breakdown of muscles and soreness that occurs and pain because those structures are working overtime and no one likes to work overtime, and when you do, you end up with some pain afterwards most likely,” said Robyn Johnson, physical therapist, OSF HealthCare.
There are plenty of signs when you’re overdoing it in addition to prolonged muscles soreness. If you’re feeling fatigued, sick, irritable or low energy, it might be time to put on the brakes and give yourself some rest. Workout burnout is real, Johnson says, and can be either physical or mental.
“First, make sure you’re consulting with your physician to make sure you’re cleared, ok, healthy to do a running program or a weightlifting program," said Robyn Johnson, physical therapist, OSF HealthCare. "Secondly, start off slow. Allow your body to rest. You don’t have to go zero to 60. You’re still going to benefit from it. Starting slow with body weight, exercises and walking if you haven’t been doing anything before.”
Another tip is to mix up your workout. For example, don’t lift weights or run every day. Incorporate other exercises such as swimming or stretching. If you don’t, you may do your body more harm than good.
“So if you want to run alternate that with walking some days or stairclimbing," said Robyn Johnson, physical therapist, OSF HealthCare. "They’re both great cardiovascular workouts but they’re not as much force through those joints. From a workout standpoint, make sure you’re changing it up in regards to weights versus resistance versus just body weight exercises so you’re not doing the same thing repeatedly so your muscles can work in different forms and fashions.”
If physical therapy is called for, Johnson says the sooner the better. A two to six-week physical therapy program may be just what you need to get back on your feet again.
For more information on physical therapy, visit OSF HealthCare.