Build up your exercise routine gradually

Fitness Q & A

April 20, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I have suffered from a number of overuse injuries, including rotator cuff pain and Achilles tendinitis. What can I do to avoid these types of injuries?

Shoulder pain and tendinitis are two of the most common forms of overuse injuries. It's important to realize that, as you get older, you become more prone to these problems. If you are experiencing pain while exercising and ignore it, you are setting yourself up to get hurt. If you have an overuse injury, the No. 1 treatment is rest. Give it time to heal (this can vary from a few days to a few months, depending on the case).

To prevent overuse injuries in the future, be sure to increase the intensity of your exercise slowly. Don't go out and play squash for two hours if you haven't touched a racket in a year. The general rule of thumb is to increase activity -- whether in time, distance or intensity -- by 10 percent each week. Exceed this and you are more likely to sustain an overuse injury.

Warm up before you work out and cool down afterward. If you are starting up again after suffering an overuse injury, treat the injured area with heat before you begin and ice when you finish. Neoprene sleeves, found at sporting goods stores, will keep the area warm, and anti-inflammatory drugs are good for reducing inflammation. Stretching regularly will also cut down on future injuries.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@ baltsun.com.

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