When should I stop?

Written by: Suzanne Blakeney, PT, DPT, CSCS

“Ouch! Is this normal? Am I hurting myself? Should I just ignore the pain and push through?” Whether you are sticking fast to your New Year’s resolution, gearing up for another season of races, or preparing for your next sport season you have probably asked yourself these questions. They are common concerns, and while they do not always have an easy answer there are some key components to help you think them through.

Generically, the achy knee or shoulder you may be experiencing when you train is considered “Overtraining.”  Overtraining comes in many different forms. For most, it manifests as joint or muscle pain, prolonged soreness, or tightness. If continued untreated, it can also cause decreased appetite, sleep disturbances, decreased training performance, and chronic fatigue.  Some even experience increases in resting heart rate and blood pressure; others may also notice decreases in power and endurance during your exercise. If you notice these symptoms and feel that you may be overtraining, the easiest way to treat it is to take steps that allow your body to rest and recover.

Overtraining is common, and can occur after increases in training volume, intensity, or type without appropriate time for your body to adapt and condition. You should first look to these to determine if you made too many drastic changes in your routine, and adjust accordingly. Usually just dialing down intensity, speed, frequency, or duration can help.  If you have been pushing yourself hard and fast, it may be time to rest and back down to help your body recover. Most clinicians will recommend complete rest until the pain is gone or cross-training in non-painful modes.

The good news is avoiding overtraining syndrome is fairly straightforward: Value your body! Make sure you have rest days. Give your body days to recover during bouts of activity through light walking, low impact workouts, or stretching.  Speaking of rest, actually get some! Sleep is very important. It is when our bodies repair themselves, and you want to allow it time to do that. Our bodies need fuel as well as rest, so proper nutrition helps ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients from plenty of sources. And always, when starting a new activity or changing up your routine, take it slow and steady. Give your body time to adapt to the new demands, and never increase too quickly.

What if you’re already experiencing pain or discomfort? Counter to what your drill sergeant screams, pushing through will not bring relief.  Typically, it’s never a good idea to push through pain that is sharp, pinching, or stabbing, especially if you are feeling pain in your joints. When you experience such pain give yourself time to heal by stopping the triggering activity. Instead, cross train or perform light, non-painful activities. Pain is your guide and as long as that feeling is there you should not be pushing it. If you notice something is sore or tight after the activity you may want to re-tool your warm-up and cool-down routine. Spend more time stretching, improving muscle balance, or foam rolling.

As always, if you have a nagging pain that you are concerned about come into our clinics for a free injury screen at any time! Our therapists will be happy to schedule a 15 minute screen to determine the nature of the pain/injury and to direct you towards appropriate care.


About Suzanne Blakeney PT, DPT, CSCS:

Suzanne Blakeney graduated from James Madison University with a B.S. in Kinesiology/Exercise Science in 2008. She earned her doctorate in Physical Therapy at Shenandoah University in 2012, which included clinical work in the sports therapy departments of the Lewis Gale Medical Center in Roanoke, Virginia, and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Suzanne has earned her Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification from the NSCA as well as certifications in Functional Movement Screening (FMS), ImPact concussion testing and rehabilitation and Dry Needling.

Prior to joining Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic in 2013, Suzanne began specializing in Sports Medicine as well as Neuro-Vestibular rehabilitation. Her early work with Raleigh Orthopaedic allowed her to focus on general outpatient orthopedics and sports rehab. Her work with Raleigh Orthopedic Performance Center gives her the opportunity to use her sports rehabilitation and training expertise with a wide range of active individuals. She has special interests in running, swimming, soccer, and hip injuries and has treated clientele for both chronic and acute injuries related to everyday life and sports.