When you love exercise, love the direction it takes you in and the benefits that you see in your body from it, it can be difficult to know when to stop. In fact, you’ll go out of your way to be able to continue on your usual regimen, love the adrenaline, only breaking your stride when you really have to. That’s admirable… up to a point.
There comes a time in any devout exerciser’s life when they suffer an injury. It might be through no fault of your own, a one-time occurrence or just wear and tear resulting in a low-impact version of RSI.
The most prone areas to this kind of injury are the joints. If you run often, then your ankles and knees are going to be prone to taking a beating. They will be strengthened by the regular use, but they’re also more exposed to the opportunity for disaster to strike. If you swim, then it might be your shoulders and wrists that suffer – and so on and so forth, depending on your activity.
When it happens, it can be tempting to brush it off and continue as you have been. You don’t want to ruin your workout balance; you don’t want the setback from your goals in having to take it easy. So you seek knee pain treatment, or you wear a wrist binding, and you try to pretend you don’t need to do anything else.
The first time you do it, it’s probably going to be fine. The treatment you take, the alternative therapies you gamble on and the supports you invest in; they will get you through and help prevent further injury. But if you keep injuring the same area over and over again, your body is trying to tell you something. For the good of your future health, you need to listen to it.
The problems you can cause yourself by not doing so are substantial. The biggest issue you face is one of alignment. As an example, let’s say you have an ankle problem that keeps flaring. It happens despite the precautions you have taken. It’s not severe, but it nags you – aches after a workout, influences the kind of shoes you wear.
In and of itself, is that that much of a problem? Probably not – if you can handle the adaptations you have to make. The problem comes with the adaptations you don’t know you’re making. When you’re hurt, your body begins to compensate. You will hold the rest of your leg differently to take the pressure off of the damaged ankle; it happens subconsciously, quietly, so you won’t know it’s happening.
Then before you know it, you’ve got knee problems as your knee has been compensating for your ankle. It will continue to radiate upwards, eventually reaching your hips. It’s genuinely not pushing the bounds of reality to suggest your misalignment due to compensation could lead to a hip replacement being necessary one day.
So take each injury seriously, seek medical advice when needed and go for further testing if the same problems keeps reassuring now. Essentially, take care of yourself – and don’t store up problems for later in life.