In response to a query from EverydayHealth.com, Dr. Mark Slabaugh, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon with Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy, offers insights on the potential dangers of over-exercising.
There are many signs that you are over-exercising, the most common being that you feel tired all the time. Additionally, workouts that used to be easy become progressively harder to do because you do not have the energy reserve that the body requires. The soreness that typically accompanies a good work will last longer because the body is not able to tap into its reserves and heal. Over-exercising is dangerous with some sports or exercises being more dangerous because the risk of injury becomes greater. When the body doesn’t have time to heal, athletes risk getting overuse injuries more easily due to the state of relative energy deficiency brought on by the intense workouts. The body can’t heal itself and thus further exercise risks making the injury worse. The athlete begins to spiral downward leading to increased risk of tendonitis, fatigue or worse tendon tears. Over-exercising is typically mostly encountered in patients who go from not exercising at all to trying too aggressively to get into shape or lose weight. Factors such as the intensity, duration and length of workouts need to be eased into gradually working up to an appropriate level for the athlete’s fitness level. Furthermore, nutrition is often a huge factor in over-exercising. Athletes just don’t get the appropriate amount of key nutrients to allow their body to heal itself after intense workouts. Thus, athletes of all skills should be on a balanced nutritious diet that gives them enough calories to sustain their workouts. For those wishing to lose weight and workout, a gradual reduction in calories over time all the while maintaining key nutrients is the key to success.
If you are over exercising, rest until your body is able to heal and you are able to go back to a workout that was well tolerated before you began the intense workouts. Additionally, make sure you are eating a balanced nutritious diet with all the key nutrients of protein, carbohydrates, appropriate fats and tons of vitamins. Hydration will help tremendously as well to help the body flush out the by-products of an intense workout.
--Mark Slabaugh, M.D.
Dr. Slabaugh is Board Certified in Orthopedic Surgery and Orthopedic Sports Medicine. He specializes in arthroscopic repair of sports-related injuries and complex knee and shoulder reconstructions, including ACL/MCL tears, shoulder instability and rotator cuff tears. Dr. Slabaugh serves patients and families of central Maryland, with office locations at Mercy Personal Physicians community-based facilities in Lutherville, Overlea and Reisterstown, as well as Mercy Medical Center in Downtown Baltimore.