When is Too Much Too Soon ?

7th January 2021

When is Too Much Too Soon ?

Being injured is frustrating for anyone, if you exercise on a regular basis you will probably develop an injury at some point. We exercise for many reasons, to keep fit, loose weight, improve mental health, to control stress at work, or simply to have some ‘me’ time.

If you have a patient come and see you with a sports injury, this can be more of a problem than just having the injury. It can affect their whole work / life balance. How best to deal with this situation? The best way is to make sure your patient understand what has happened to them and that they will recover. If they ignore the injury it will keep coming back or not get better and become chronic, affecting their whole life. Reassure them that it is not the end of their exercise regime, but they may have to adapt their lifestyle while they improve. Getting professional help is so important to optimise their recovery, look at Image 1 The diagram shows some of the factors that can affect the speed of your recovery. Talk through these with your patient in a relaxed way and suggest improvements where they might be needed. Always explain why they need to improve certain factors.

  1. Training Response: If you can still exercise lightly and the next day you are in pain, then the amount of exercise you did was too much. Adjust  your exercise by reducing the time you exercised for or reduce the intensity ie keep on flat, reduce speed, exercise for less time. Then when you next exercise and find that you are not in pain the next day you have probably found the right level of exercise for you while you recover.
  2. Sleep: Get plenty of quality sleep, but no more than 8 hours a night.
  3. Diet: Have a nutritious diet.
  4. Recovery: You must have ‘rest’ days to allow the injured area to recover. This is when the tissue strengthening occurs, so it is vital they do this. A rest day is not lounging around, it can be active rest. Depending on how much the injury affects them, a relaxed walk, a relaxed swim, some body weight exercise that will optimise their injury recovery. eg an ankle strain might reduce the amount of walking they can do but will not get in the way of gluteal, core and calf strengthening to prevent the injury reoccurring.
  5. Mental Health: Make sure they don’t take onboard negative talk, make sure they are  around positive people, there is no place for negative thinking or poor injury information when recovering

If they only rest, the injured tissue will only stagnate and the injury will not respond to your treatment and regime effectively (Image 2). The tissues may remain painful / sore, and become hypersensitive to touch. If they overdo it and increase the strain on the injured tissue it  will get worse. Always ask them if they were in the same or worse pain the next day after exercising. If they were then the amount of exercise they are doing was too much and it needs to be adjusted. Do not forget that activity is 24 hours a day so factor in everyday activity they may do at work, or just around the house.