01 March 2012

Fitness: pain vs. gain

Exercise isn’t always just a route to fitness or weight-lossbut when injuries occur, it’s difficult to take time out for healing, fortunately FitnessDoc has the answers.


Exercise isn’t always just a route to fitness or weight-loss, it’s also the adrenalin-rush of competing against your best time and a way to shed stress. When injuries occur, it’s difficult to take time out for healing, but pushing through the wrong kind of pain can lead to worse injury – FitnessDoc has answers.

Q: Groin Injury
About a month ago I injured myself during my workout. It seems that I’ve torn my inner groin muscle, the one between my groin and inner thigh. I think it’s a tear because it’s been about a month now and I still can’t exercise properly. Admittedly, I rested for a few days after the injury but attempted to exercise again and hurt it again. What actions can I take for this injury?  I don't notice it until I exercise or have to lift my leg up higher than normal, but it is definitely affecting my exercise routine as I can’t run, cycle or skip.

Should I see a doctor or is rest all I need to heal? 

It does sound like a tear, and a groin strain is a really stubborn injury. It just requires rest, maybe a week or two, depending on the severity of the tear, and then a lot of patience as you build your way back to normal. You have to start at 50% of what you would normally do, and then build slowly, maybe three to four weeks to get back to normal. So it's a big time chunk to take out. Cycling should be the first thing you can do normally, because it doesn't load the muscle the same way. Skipping, running and anything that involves changes of direction is a longer term thing.

If it hasn't responded about 4 to 6 weeks later, then it's time to see a doctor.

Q:  Sore Achilles tendon
I have been doing a few step classes and bosu classed but my left achilles tendon gets quite sore. Is there something I can do to strengthen this tendon? Its not on the right, just the left.

That usually happens simply because the tendon is being loaded more than it is used to. And the danger is that you try to strengthen it, but this is just even more load and you end up affecting it negatively. The balance between training and resting up needs to be found. I'd say that if you cut the number of those classes by 50%, and maybe take more rest, then you'll be able to adapt between sessions. Hard day, followed by easy day, give yourself a chance to rest. That should sort it out.

Also, calf raises can help, but you need to be careful there because when you do calf raises, it's more stress on the tendon, and that can be negative, as I said. So I'd say back off training for a couple of weeks, doing less than before, and then build up.

Q: Hip pain
When moving (running, walking, climbing stairs) I experience a pain on the top of my hip. It is not the hip-joint, but feels more like a muscle. Any idea what this may be and how I can fix it?

 I'm guessing, of course, and it's impossible to say. The hip flexor is the muscle that we use to push up when we walk, to lift our knee, and the muscle might have been strained. If that's the case, then a period of rest is normally sufficient. If it's a tendon or ligament, it takes longer, and may require some rehab after which you could see a physio.  But I'd consider that only now, given that it's been 3 weeks or so and if it were muscle, the problem should mostly have cleared.

More info:

See the Sports injuries A-Z

The Exercise Centre – how to do it right

Send your fitness questions in to FitnessDoc

(Joanne Hart, Health24, February 2012)



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