fitness

The 5 most common aches and pains you get during exercising.

Image via iStock.

You’re happily running along, hitting the dreaded incline part of your treadmill workout or struggling through your 20th burpee when suddenly you feel a pain.

It could be short and sharp or a dull ache – but how do you know whether it’s serious enough that you need to stop what you’re doing?

According to personal trainer and Pick It Up! Fitness founder Michael Genitsaris, it doesn’t matter whether you’re new to exercise or a regular – aches and pains can be equally as irritating and debilitating if you don’t treat them properly.

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“The most common complaints I’ve seen are sprained ankles, knee pain, lower back stiffness and discomfort, a tight neck leading to headaches or migraines and of course, the common stitch,” he says.

“They can be caused from things like incorrect technique when performing an exercise to overworking a muscle group and not giving it significant time to rest.”

1. Sprained ankle

According to Genitsaris, a sprained ankle is usually a combination of bad luck as well as a lack of preparation.

“A bad step, or a quick turn on an underperforming ankle can often lead to a sprain ranging anywhere from mild and short term pain to severe pain and the need to immediately off load any pressure from the joint,” he says.

To minimise the risk before you hurt yourself, look to incorporate some balance work into your workout, which can help build up the surrounding fast twitch muscle fibres and provide more support for the joint.

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"A sprained ankle is more likely to occur if your calves are tight or if you’re running on uneven ground," he explains.

"Also if your ankle has been sprained it’s more likely to happen again due to the weakness now present. Be sure to strap up your ankles, stretch your calves or look at other form of exercise like swimming or cycling if you have had a recent previous sprain."

2. Knee pain

Unfortunately, knee pain isn't always as simple and easy to identify, says Genitsaris.

"It may stem from tightness or weakness in surrounding and supporting muscles, overuse of muscle groups leading to strained ligaments, arthritic degeneration and poor patella tracking to name a few." (Post continues after gallery.)

He believes the best approach to reducing the chance of injury is to monitor your quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes.

"These muscles should be kept loose by incorporating foam rolling and stretching into your work out regime," he says.

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"Strong quads will be a big help in reducing knee pain and this can be achieved with the addition of a resisted leg extension into your workouts."

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When it comes to exercising with mild knee pain, it's so important not to ignore it.

"Be active about fixing the issues and if you lack the knowledge, seek a professional’s advice. Start by avoiding movements that cause pain and if you find most exercises are causing you grief, it’s time to seek treatment," he advises.

3. Back stiffness

It's a similar issue with any lower back stiffness and discomfort.

"Tight or weak muscles are usually a pretty large contributor, while poor form of particular exercise techniques can most definitely increase pain and the risk of further injury," says Genitsaris.

Image via iStock.

"Lower back stiffness and discomfort should be addressed as soon as possible as it can lead to more crippling injuries involving the spine. A strong core is the way to go here so make sure things like planks, crunches and hyper extensions are done two to three times a week," he explains.

Sitting for long periods (hello, desk job) isn't ideal, so try to get up from you desk during the day to avoid a rounded lower back.

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While it may seem trivial, lower back stifness is certainly not something to take lightly.

If you're sitting for the majority of your day and not getting a good strength building session for your core done at least twice a week, Genitsaris suggests that it might be time to find an exercise professional.

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4. Tight neck

A tight neck is the kind of injury that tends to hang around, and is likely due to postural issues from everyday activities.

"Unfortunately most of us spend the majority of our time seated at a desk, in a car, or staring down at our smart phones, all of which is doing the neck and upper back no favours," says Genitsaris. (Post continues after gallery.)

"The lack of strength through our muscles surrounding our shoulder blades, and a growing tightness through our chest and shoulders draws on a more hunchback type posture rather than a tall well aligned posture, which inevitably will contribute to neck pain."

This is another problem that should be addressed sooner rather than later. Genitsaris advises keeping your chest and shoulders loose by stretching often and look at strengthening up your back with rowing exercises and external shoulder rotation.

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"With neck tightness your first priority should be fixing your posture with stretching and strengthening exercises," he says.

"Although massages may alleviate the pain, most of the time it will just be temporary relief. The issues simply won’t go away unless it’s addressed properly."

5. Stitch

The stitch is probably the most common exercise complained, usually associated with long sessions of cardio.

Unfortunately, when it comes to a stitch at times not too much can be done.

"Look at keeping any meals at least two to three hour prior exercising and stay well hydrated beforehand and during any form of exercise," he advises.

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"Continuing to train on a stitch won’t likely cause severe injury but anyone who has experience one before can vouch for me when I say it's not fun!"

The most important thing? Never ignore your body. (Post continues after gallery)

"The pain you’re feeling won’t go away on its own. Odds are its there due to an imbalance in your body and will need rectifying before you can continue to work out (or even do day to day activities) pain free," he says.

"Be smart. Listen to what your body is telling you and if you lack the knowledge on how to fix the issues, find a professional who does."

The advice listed in this article is general, if you experience these pains, it's always best to see your doctor.

Do you suffer from any of these common pains?