Now that Indianapolis is beginning to get warmer again, it is easier to turn those wintertime thoughts of getting into shape into a reality. While it’s great to be excited about turning a new leaf and deciding to get fit, too much of this good habit can turn into a bad thing, and lead to over-exercising. While overexercise might seem like a nice problem to have, the condition can actually lead to more serious consequences such as stress fractures and even joint replacement surgery. In fact, it is an issue we often treat at our Indianapolis foot and wound care office.
What Is Overexercise?
Over exercise is a straightforward concept to understand. It results from overestimating one’s fitness level and heading into a new fitness routine too aggressively, or from sheer overuse and exercising too hard, too frequently. Unfortunately, overexercise can actually be counterproductive and hinder progress from a more reasonable exercise regime.
How Does Overexercise Affect Your Feet?
The effects of over-exercising vary by age groups, fitness level, and even person to person. When we over exercise, our lower extremities bear the brunt, especially the feet. Aside from general muscle soreness, common injuries include plantar fasciitis, shin splints and Achilles tendonitis (find out more about these ailments in our learning center).
The lists of overexercise signs can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming. Aside from injury, two crucial factors to monitor include heart rate and actual performance. As your fitness level increases, heart rate should be adapting and decreasing. A sign of overexercise is a resting heart that seems to be rising–similar to when you’re under stress. As for performance, it should increase or stay the same. If you find yourself struggling to complete your normal sets, you may be suffering from overexercise and a lack of recovery time.
Preventing and Treating Symptoms of Overexercise
When you begin a new exercise regimen or activity it’s crucial to ease into it. Too much stress on a body that isn’t used to a high level of intensity will lead to injuries. For example, if you haven’t participated in much activity in years and want to start a walking routine, do not go out and walk three miles in your first attempt. Pick a reasonable starting point and increase it by no more than 10% every week– that applies to time, weight, distance or anything else you’d measure. This doesn’t mean that you need to increase your routines by 10% weekly, but as a limit to help avoid overexercise.
The most straight-forward treatment for over exercise is simple: rest. An easy rule to remember is that frequency should decrease as intensity is increased. So, as your 20-minute mile melts into a 15-minute pace, the amount of miles walked or the number of days you do it should also decline. Recovery is a key component to any successful fitness regimen. Aside from avoiding over exercise, other ways to prevent injury include wearing shoes that fit properly, utilizing inserts or heel cups for support, and exercising with proper form.
If your overexercise has resulted in a sprain, consider an ankle brace or knee brace for stability. If you’re beginning to experience discomfort (other than typical soreness), decrease the intensity or frequency of your regimen. A personal trainer can help determine what kind of exercises, the intensity and the frequency that are best for you. And of course, if any pain or injury feels unusual or severe, consult your physician.