Can Exercise Cause Injury?

Many things affect motivation. Some people seem to have it all the time, for others, there are more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride. What we dislike is when injury contributes to either the lack of motivation or the deterioration of health even when motivation is there. We want to squash any chance that your exercise can lead to injury.

Two kinds of exercisers 

I’m often discussing exercise and Injury with two types of people. The first kind of person goes up and down with their motivation and is going back to exercise after a lay-off from injury. The second person is the person who’s continuously exercising, is motivated, but can’t overcome nagging injuries. If you’re one of these people and want to find out more about the connection between exercise and injury, read on!

Disclaimer: This is for Educational Purposes Only

Let me take a quick intercession to inform you as to the nature of our advice. We are experienced, healthcare clinicians. We wish to share our experience with you on topics to do with your health. We may be a little colourful in doing so, but at the heart of what we do is in-the-trenches experience. Whilst we have achieved academic success and understand the evidence, we are not solely evidence-based. We are, however, EVIDENCE INFORMED. 

We find that the evidence is usually 10-15years (at minimum) behind what we are seeing in the clinic. We see real people, with real problems, and we’ve made a great living out of offering real solutions. 

If all you’re after is the researched evidence, you can find some on Google Scholar, or you can very easily look for more on Google. We want to give you real-life advice, most of which you may not find in the research.

There is no way that this document can replicate or replace expert assessment and guidance given by a qualified registered healthcare practitioner who has seen you personally. I am sure you’re aware that I have no knowledge of your personal medical history or how you take care of your body. If you require care from a qualified practitioner, you would be best served by seeing someone who can empathise with your situation and treat you accordingly.

I’m sure you understand that I disclaim any and all responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading this document. And by reading this article, you accept 100% responsibility for the actions of you or anyone under your care.

What is exercise?

In past articles, we defined exercise as a workout that’s done specially for the results of that day’s workout. You’re burning some calories, you’re getting your heart rate up, you’re getting your sweat on, but that’s generally where the results end! You’re not moving closer to any pre-defined goal you’ve set for yourself. When we see exercise in this light, we can start to understand a couple of problems that can emerge. The first problem is the problem of randomisation. 

Randomisation is you doing random exercises each and every time you go and do a workout. This means that your body doesn’t get adapted to anything specific and each and every time you perform a workout, you get sore. F45, CrossFit and Bootcamps are prime examples of this type of workout. 

This soreness is from the muscular damage you’ve created during your workout and because your muscles haven’t been adapted to anything specifically, they keep feeling sore! Now, if you accumulate too much muscular damage over time this leads to systemic inflammation and injury. 

Another issue with randomisation is that you don’t get to practice anything specifically. Your technique doesn’t improve and if you’re doing things that are reliant on good technique, under load, and under fatigue that is a precursor for injury.

Can Exercise Cause Injuries

How exercise can hurt you

Another problem that we can see with exercise is the problem of intensity modification or how hard you train. Most people want to train as hard as they can each time to maximise their results. And if you’re participating in a group type session, the trainer will push you as hard as you can, so that they can maximise your results! 

Whilst this might seem like a good idea on the surface it can lead to injury. The reason for this is if you go as hard as you can each time you train, you’re going to accumulate inflammation and that accumulation of inflammation over time will lead to injury! 

The common occurrence in the clinic is that we see many examples of participants in these group type classes performing movements like squats, deadlifts, and Olympic lifts that are technique dependant, under fatigue. These movements aren’t inherently bad, but when you push someone to do them when they’re already fatigued from 100 burpees, you’re pretty much forcing injury upon them. 

A common joke between allied health practitioners is that every time a CrossFit or a Bootcamp opens in your area, you can upgrade your car. Because the business will pick up! Most people can last about four to six weeks exercising in this fashion before they end up here in the clinic!

Exercise with minimised risk

So now we can start to see how these two different types of people emerge. The first person with waving motivation because they’re doing random sets of exercises and the second person who’s motivated but keeps getting nagging injuries due to the increase of inflammation in their body. 

Now, this means you can continue exercising but understand the risks and the benefits, there are benefits to good exercise but there are also risks. You can mitigate those risks! If your exercise is technique dependant, practice that technique so that you become good at it! If you’re going hard each time, understand how to modify your intensity so that you don’t accumulate too much fatigue. Maybe have a week off every seven or eight weeks. 

How to reduce your chance of injury

A great strategy is to spend 12 weeks per year getting yourself strong through good strength training. Some CrossFit boxes will actually support you in this endeavour and this can reduce your chance of injury because you get to practice good movement and you get stronger at the movements that are technique dependant. If you spend some energy on mitigating these risks you can continue exercising and enjoying your exercise, and if you do this, You’ll Stay Strong!

Dr. Sami Karam Osteopath

Author – Dr. Sami Karam

Dr. Sami Karam
Osteopath

A little extra about me. I’ve been a qualified Osteopath since 2004. I’ve been playing football ever since I could remember and I have a passion for it. I’ve played at the highest level in the NSW State League at both Youth and Senior levels, and have also been Head Physician at numerous State League Clubs. I’ve travelled internationally and consulted with Sports academies in Barcelona and Italy. I have a special interest in Strength and Conditioning for footballers, as I believe it gives them an edge in their physical competition. My passion involves bringing all of this knowledge into every single treatment that I provide for all athletes. If you feel that I can help you and want to reach out to me, contact me.

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