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How to Avoid Exercise Injury

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Updated April 20, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Know When To Rest
Your body makes most of its progress during your rest days and it's those rest days that also allow your body to repair and heal after tough workouts. If you don't give your body enough rest, you risk overtraining and that can lead to injuries. This is especially a problem for regular exercisers. You're used to your body being strong and may push yourself to keep going, even if your body isn't up to it. It's the pushing that can lead to overuse injuries, so look for these red flags that may be telling you not to exercise:
  • You feel exhausted or very fatigued.
  • You feel sharp pain in your joints or muscles. It's never a good idea to work through pain and doing so could make things worse. If you feel pain, stop what you're doing and take a break. You may be able to go back to your workout without problems, but if it's nagging you, move onto something different or stop your workout. If it's something that continues for several days or weeks, make an appointment with your doctor.
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded.
  • You're sick. If you have a fever, the flu or an upper respiratory infection, working out may make things worse. If you have a stuffy nose or a light cold, you may be able to do light workouts, but you should check with your doctor.
  • Your performance is in the toilet. If you can't lift as much as you normally do or your heart rate seems higher than normal, that's a sign you may need to rest. Taking a few days off may be just what you need to come back even stronger.

It's sometimes hard to know when to back off and rest and you may worry that you'll lose fitness or gain weight if you take time off. Taking a few days of or even a week won't affect your fitness and, if you're worried about weight gain, monitor your calories more closely and realize that rest is what you need to get back on track.

More Ways to Avoid Exercise Injury

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