BLOG FITNESS, STRENGTH, PROGRESS
July 26, 2013
Does Exercise Lead to Injury?
Have you ever noticed that people who exercise seem to get injured? Runners are always dealing with this pain or that pain. Weight lifters always have sore muscles. What gives?
Well, exercise is a stressor. We know that stress leads to adaptation. Too little stress (like a sedentary lifestyle) leads to maladaptation or complete deconditioning. Too much stress leads to damage, injury, and sometimes death. There is a Goldilocks principle here that is very important. You need enough exercise to stress your body and force it to adapt, but not so much that you are crushed and thrown into the pits of injury management. It is like a drug or medication: there is an effective dose and a lethal dose. Too little of a medication and you will get no effect. Too much of a medication and you could die. Exercise is similar though the effective range is quite large.
Five minutes of exercise is better than zero minutes of exercise, and when trained properly, the body can withstand brutal physical challenges and still come out on top. There are people who run a 100 mile race in Death Valley, and they come out just fine (although very fatigued.)
The trick to staying injury free with exercise is to know your limits. Doing too much volume (total work) too soon will lead to injury. This means placing too intense of a stressor on your body before it has made the adaptations necessary to handle it. If you have never ran before and you just decide to go run 100 miles in Death Valley, I have a hunch that things aren't going to work out so well for you. However, if you start slow, run a bit here and there, and slowly increase your distance and volume over time, then your body will be able to handle such a trying event.
Here are some simple rules:
1. Start slow - You may be the most awesome person on the planet, but that does not mean you are ready to pick up 400lb weights off the floor yet. Too much too soon leads to injury.
2. Listen to your body - If you feel a pain coming on, figure out what the issue is and take care of it. If the pain lingers or is unusual, get in to see a doctor or physical therapist.
3. Avoid sugar - Seriously. When you exercise your body produces free radicals. One of the reasons why your body adapts to exercise is because of the oxidative damage. This is good. But you still need anti-oxidants to help protect your body from too much oxidative stress. Sugar steals your bodies ability to create its own anti-oxidants by altering the metabolic pathways they are created in. Also, high blood sugar greatly reduces your body's ability to heal.
So get exercising and create that stress! Just do so responsibly!