Why You Should Start Your Exercise Routine Slowly

The bones aren’t connected without muscles,
ligaments and tendons!

Last week we talked about muscle cramps and how they can be the result of muscles being overused. Starting an exercise routine and moving faster than your muscles are ready to can cause cramps and a variety of other issues.
You need to build up your muscles so that they are there to support your body during exercise. If you have not been exercising and then go out and try and run a 5K, you run the risk of your weak muscles not being able to support your bones, ligaments and tendons. If you take the time to build up slowly, your muscles will be able to be the support that they are meant to be.
Just to give you an idea of the problems that can be caused by starting too quickly, let’s go through a list of problems that can occur.
Stress Fractures
A stress fracture is an overuse injury. When your muscles are not able to absorb the shock of repeated pounding due to exhaustion or weakness, then your bones can develop small fractures.
There are three key elements that can increase your risk of a stress fracture.
What kind of conditioning mistakes can be made? A person who takes up a sport again after a period of not working out and tries to start where they left off is one example. The “weekend warrior” who thinks that they do not have to build up their strength is another. You need to build up your muscles so that they are ready to protect your bones.
You need to make sure that your shoes are up to your workout needs. You need to have the right fit and the right shoes for your sport. As always, we suggest that you go to a store where you can have a professional fitting for your shoes. As much as we agree that running shoes are expensive, you need to replace them every few months so that they are in the best condition to protect you from injuries.
If you change the way your foot hits the ground you are opening yourself up to a stress fracture. Things that can affect your foot strike can be blisters, bunions, or tendinitis. Suddenly changing your foot strike pattern to accommodate those problems will cause your foot to hit other areas where the muscles are not used to being used and this can lead to a stress fracture.
Common areas for a stress fracture
1.       The second or third metatarsals – the bones in the mid-foot range going back from the second or third toes.
2.       The heel of the foot
3.       The fibula (outer bone in the leg)
4.       The bone at the top back of your foot (the navicular)
Symptoms of a stress fracture
1.       Pain while participating in anactivity but goes away with rest
2.       Pain that starts with the activity and then does not go away
3.       Swelling in area
4.       Tenderness at site of stress fracture
5.       Bruising
What to do if you think you have a stress fracture
If you think you might have a stress fracture, you should go visit your friendly local podiatrist. The doctor will ask you about your sports participation. You could even bring your shoes if you think that they might be the problem and ask the doctor to evaluate them. The doctor will probably need to order an imaging test to make the diagnosis of a stress fracture. Unfortunately, stress fractures are hard to see with x-rays unless they have started to heal. An MRI is a much more accurate tool for the diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with a stress fracture, you will need to rest. Some areas of the foot heal faster than others so will depend on the location of your stress fracture. You may be given a boot or a cast depending upon the fracture.
Shin Splints
Shin splints are another problem that can occur when your muscles are not ready for an activity. They are an overuse injury that can come when you change your running surface or when your activity involves lots of starting and stopping like in basketball or tennis. Doing warming up exercises can help reduce the occurrence of shin splints.
Shin splints refer to a pain that you feel in the front lower part of your leg. The pain is caused by the swelling of the muscles, tendons, and tissue that cover the shin bone.
The pain from shin splints usually goes away when you stop the activity. The treatment for shin splints is to rest the area. You can apply ice to help with the swelling. If you rest and the pain remains or gets worse, then it is time to see your friendly local podiatrist as you may have a stress fracture.
Next week and the following week, we will discuss some other problems that can occur when you start your exercise program too quickly. It is important to take your time and build up your levels of activity. You don’t want to get discouraged and have to sit out due to an injury.
I will be back next week with some more injuries that can be due to starting an exercise routine too quickly.
Your Pal,
The Foot Blogger Chick


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