We have all heard the phrase ‘No pain, no gain’. When it comes to the human body, discomfort is acceptable, but pain is not. In fact, there is a threshold of pain tolerance that is unique to each individual.
It’s important to understand and respect this limit. When the body is pushed past this ‘breaking point’, injuries and long-term damage can occur. On the other hand, the right approach towards exercise, nutrition and rest can actually increase this limit at any age. When you exercise in a gradual and progressive manner under the supervision of a physical therapist, the body becomes stronger, and injuries are avoided.
Overtraining syndrome occurs when an individual participates in new activities that the body is unaccustomed to. It also occurs when an individual does the same actions for a prolonged period, or in the absence of warm up and stretching routines. Sometimes, a specific area of the body hurts, and the individual will notice impairments in movement, coordination and performance. Athletes with overtraining injuries may display fatigue, disturbances in sleep patterns and appetite suppression in severe cases.
If left unchecked, overtraining can lead to long-term pain and disability. Physical therapy goes a long way in the prevention of overtraining. A variety of physical therapy techniques can be used to evaluate, prevent and treat overtraining injuries. These include:
Therapeutic Massage – Relaxation of soft tissue and increased blood circulation to affected areas is a great way to relieve pain and inflammation associated with overtraining.
Aquatic Therapy–The buoyancy of water provides gentle support, allowing patients to perform movements that might not otherwise be possible. The soothing effect of water allows the body to gain strength, coordination and flexibility in a gradual manner.
Dry Needling – Similar to acupuncture, dry needling is used to release muscle tension, alleviate pain and stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities.
Manual Manipulation and Mobilization – Using a combination of specialized active and passive techniques to facilitate motion between joints, a physical therapist can increase joint mobility and facilitate a return to full function.
Overtraining injuries can happen suddenly or develop over time. With the proper precautions and supervision from a physical therapist, you can enjoy an active lifestyle without pain and discomfort. Little things go a long way in the prevention of overtraining syndrome.
Simple ways to prevent overtraining include gradual, progressive exercise, appropriate footwear and adequate warm up and stretching. A physical therapist will teach you to use the right technique, range of motion and breathing when you exercise. The therapist will also build a training program with the appropriate degree of intensity and frequency. The goal is to challenge, but not overwhelm you. When you remain within your ‘threshold’, expect to significant improvements in strength, flexibility and mobility over a period.
If you or someone you know has complained of pain or discomfort after swimming, cycling, running or any activity, give us a call. We will look for signs of overtraining and take action accordingly. We are committed to helping you live a happy and healthy lifestyle. We will make sure you don’t overdo it, and we will teach you how to work smart and not just work hard. Sometimes, less is more.
Dan Skulavik is the physical therapist at Advanced Physical Therapy in the Food Lion shopping center.