Workouts Gone Wrong: Ways to Injury-Proof Your Sweat Sessions
Active Threat: Overuse injuries
A review study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that up to 80 percent of recreational runners who log more than three miles a workout eventually suffer a lower-body injury, such as hip pain, runner's knee, shin splints, and tendinitis. Ramping up mileage too quickly, overtraining, and pushing past aches are often to blame.
Another common mistake is choosing the wrong shoes, which can throw off lower-body alignment, says Dr. Maharam, who is the author of Running Doc's Guide to Healthy Running. And while many runners swear by minimalist shoes, making the transition to them too quickly stresses the bones in the feet, which can cause fractures, a new study shows.
Workout Rescue: Increase your mileage by 10 percent every week or, if switching from the treadmill to outdoor running, cut your mileage in half and then build up by 10 percent. Get fitted for shoes at a running specialty store, where there are experts on hand to do a gait analysis.Yoga
Active Threat: Knee injuries; strained muscles, tendons, and ligaments; lower-back pain
Last year, yogis everywhere let out a collective Om-M-G when author William Broad asserted in his book The Science of Yoga that yoga headstands and other poses could cause strokes. It's possible: dropping your head back too far can kink and injure the major arteries that feed the brain, injure a blood vessel, and trigger a stroke, says Kathleen Summers, MD, PhD, the founder of TheYogaDr.com. Luckily, that's very rare.
The biggest threat in any yoga class by far is your ego, especially when you push yourself to keep up with everyone else. That kind of overzealous attitude is common in today's increasingly athletic and competitive yoga classes and may lead women to pretzel themselves into extreme postures, Dr. Summers says. It's one reason more than 10,000 people were treated for yoga-related injuries in 2011 -- nearly double the number in 2007 -- according to the most recent government data. Meniscus tears (from knee-twisting lotus poses), lower-back pain (forward bends can put pressure on and herniate disks), Achilles tendon tears (from squatting), and rotator cuff injuries (from flowing sequences that put weight on the hands) are common injuries, researchers at the University of British Columbia found.
Another concern: "Many instructors physically push students deeper into poses, which is dangerous because by the time you squeal ouch, they may have stretched you far enough to damage ligaments and tendons," says Roger Cole, PhD, a certified Iyengar yoga teacher in Del Mar, California, who has a doctorate in health psychology.
Workout Rescue: Find a happy balance between slacking off and Super Yogi. While in a pose, you'll notice specific muscles, like your hamstrings, stretching. It will feel mild at first, then as you push deeper, the sensation will build in intensity from moderate to strong, to painful. "Stop deepening the stretch at the mild to moderate stage," Cole says, and hold the pose while maintaining your alignment. Don't bend your neck to extremes, and avoid rolling it from side to side when it's flexed or extended. Tell the instructor before class that you would prefer not to be touched or guided into poses.
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