Nearly everyone has experienced stresses and strains to those parts of the body responsible for movement: the bones and muscles; major joints like the knee and ankle; and the tendons and ligaments - the soft connective tissues that transmit movement among muscles and joints.
Though sometimes referred to as sports injuries, these mishaps can occur not only during sports and exercise, but during such everyday activities as brisk walking, climbing stairs, housework or gardening. The injuries range in severity from minor bouts of muscle soreness to tears or sprains that may take weeks to heal. Fortunately, the likelihood of injury can be reduced through condition exercises and by observing certain precautions.
Preventing Aches and Pains
From runner's ankle and biker's knee to tennis elbow and swimmer's shoulder, there is hardly a sport or exercise that doesn't have some type of aggravating problem associated with it. Despite the proliferation of names, most injuries associated with exercise fall into a few broad categories.
An understanding of these basic types may help you avoid injury, minimize the damage when you are hurt, and speed your recovery. Don't let concern about injuries keep you from exercising, though. A number of studies show that the benefits of exercise far exceed the risk of injury.
When you exercise, you intentionally use certain muscles to increase their strength and endurance. As your body adapts to these efforts (depending on their intensity), you are likely to experience minor aches, twinges, and soreness. For example, one type of discomfort, called ischemic pain, occurs when muscle tissue doesn't have enough oxygen to continue working. This is the ache you feel when you attempt to perform more sit-ups or lift more weights than you are accustomed to, and it disappears when you stop exerting yourself or when you reduce the intensity of the workout, such as by slowing down or using lighter weights.
After any unaccustomed, strenuous exercise, you may experience a painful stiffness called delayed-onset muscle soreness (or DOMS, as it is sometimes referred to by physiologists). This type of discomfort occurs most often to weekend athletes who exercise only occasionally or among frequent exercisers who suddenly increase the intensity of their workouts. Typically, it sets in a day or two after a game or workout and can last a week or more.