- There is a fine line between pushing to the limit and over-exertion, and it is something many don’t realised until after their workout.
- Over-exertion may seem innocuous but if not careful, can be really harmful to you and your body.
- Understanding when you’re over-exerting yourself and learning methods to help you recover will benefit your workout regime.
Have you ever exercised so hard and ended up being tired and achy for the rest of the week? Over-exertion is a common complaint among us, fitness freaks. But there is a fine line between pushing hard and over-exerting one’s self. Pushing hard benefits you because it helps you improve your performance over time, long term over-exertion on the other hand, can harm your body.
How do you differentiate between over-exertion and just pushing yourself hard?
Good question. Here are some pointers:
- If you’re taking more than 2 days to recover from your workout and experiencing these episodes more often, you’re more likely to be over-exerting yourself.
- If you’re constantly in pain and fatigued, you’ve overdone it.
- If you feel the urge for the exercise-induced ‘high’, yes there is such a thing, you’re probably over-exerting yourself. You may even feel ‘withdrawal’ symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and depression when you don’t work out.
- If you’re catching the flu all the time, your immune system is wearing down from your over-exertion.
What happens when you overdo it?
In general, over-exertion doesn’t have long-lasting consequences. You feel sore and achy for a few days and that’s it. But as always it isn’t always so simple, here are some issues that can arise from over-exertion:
- provoke injuries like hernia or back injury. If you have pre-existing injuries such as a bad back, over-exertion can worsen it. Hernia, an injury that forms a sac on the abdomen can occur if you overwork your muscles or lift heavy weights without maintaining good posture.
- catastrophic muscle breakdown known as rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is a medical condition caused by direct muscle injury or an energy imbalance in your muscles. It is a rare condition, in which muscle fibres break down in response to exertion and release their breakdown products into your blood circulation. These compounds, which include free radicals and proteins, are harmful to your body. This is a medical emergency.
- disruption of kidney function. As a result of rhabdomyolysis, your kidneys get overwhelmed and stop functioning properly.
- weakened immune system. Your immune system takes a beating from over-exertion. As a result of the release of by-products from muscle breakdown, your immune system has to work harder and is less efficient at dealing with infections.
What can you do?
Nobody wants to be called a sissy, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to over-exertion. Here are some tips:
Know your limits. This is the simplest, yet most difficult thing to do. Try and determine your limits before you start your workout. Talk to people who have more experience with your activity of choice or consult a professional trainer. Always know when to stop and take a break.
Baby steps. Start your activity with incremental increases of intensity. For example, if you’re lifting weights start at a lower weight and gently increase them as you get more comfortable. Avoid sudden changes and showing off, you will regret it.
Water. Drinking plenty of water after your workout will help flush out any toxins and rehydrate your muscles.
Epsom salts. A good soak with this is a quick way to bring recovery to your muscles. They provide relief from over-exertion, stiffness, muscle cramps, soreness and fatigue.
Don’t smother the pain. Your body’s way of communicating with you is through pain. Pain is telling you to slow down, so heed your body’s advice. Don’t take pain killers!
Antioxidants. One of the by-products of muscle breakdown is free radicals. Free radicals can slow your recovery. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E can help neutralise the inflammation caused by free radicals and improve your recovery, not to mention ease your pain. And if that’s what you’re looking for, we have just the thing! Our TUMECAP supplement has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It is commonly used for joint and muscle pain relief. Try it and feel the difference.
So you now understand what over-exertion can do to you. If you care about your body it isn’t something you want to force on yourself. It wouldn’t be right, after all you only have one body in this lifetime, care for it and it will serve you well.