“Once you are exercising regularly, the hardest thing is to stop it.” – Erin Gray
Yet, it happens.
Maybe the weather became unexpectedly severe, and you had to miss out on some fitness walks or your regular runs. Perhaps it was COVID or some other illness or injury that sidelined you longer than you anticipated.
Or the crush and demands of the holidays once again pushed you out of your routine – and now you’re out of the habit and trying hard to avoid pies and chocolate!
As one source noted,
“It is not easy sticking to a regular physical activity routine. There are many barriers that creep up when you least expect them – time, money, weather, self-consciousness, boredom and fatigue, to name a few”
None of which would really be a problem were it not for the unexpected effects of interrupted exercise for those who have been steeped in a workout regimen for a long time.
Fitness is Not Static; Performance and Pain are Dynamic
It’s tempting to think that our level of strength and fitness will simply “go on hold” for a while when we stop exercising or working out. But our physical condition at any given time is not a static thing. And without some activity working against it, the course of nature is to atrophy.
As a Business Insider article put it,
“If you quit your gym membership and stop exercising regularly, there can be significant changes to your body and health. You could be at greater risk of high blood pressure, high levels of fat in the blood, certain cardiovascular diseases, obesity, depression, and low self-esteem.”
And, in addition to an increased susceptibility to pain and injury, none of these effects are particularly surprising if one were to forego exercise altogether for a long period of time.
But what about just a week without exercise?
For all practical purposes, you may find it difficult to pick up your routine again and your body will tell you that it’s already experienced a slight degree of deconditioning, but most people would be able to get back on track in a short period of time.
However, what about a lapse of two or even three weeks?
If you go beyond a week without regular physical activity, you’ll begin to experience the effects of “detraining” (also called deconditioning). This is a physical phenomenon in which you lose the beneficial effects of training. Not to be confused with normal workout rest and recovery, detraining is an extended rest interval that results in reduced physical fitness.
According to a study from the Journal of Applied Physiology even a fourteen-day break from exercise significantly reduces cardiovascular endurance, lean muscle mass, and insulin sensitivity.
And a significantly longer break from exercise can result in significant reversing of physical fitness and health. Another study found that two months of detraining in elite athletes resulted in noticeable changes in body composition, impaired metabolic function, and an increase of cardiovascular risk factors.
Being Aware of Your Body is Critical for Avoiding Pain and Injury
Again, a break of a day or two, or even a week, is not necessarily going to lead to pain issues. But not exercising or being able to work out for extended periods of time can quickly put your body at risk of unexpected pain or injury.
If you’re in the midst of a lengthy hiatus from working out for some reason, there is good news, however.
According to an article on the InBody website,
“A detraining period of 12 weeks results in decreased muscle mass and muscular strength, although the muscles can return to pretraining levels. The good news is that retraining can occur more quickly as a result of a concept known as “muscle memory”.
While strength performance may be maintained for up to four weeks of detraining, power and endurance may decline significantly in this time period as found in one study.”
What is more concerning is the tendency of the body to become susceptible to pains, strains, and even injuries with a complete cessation of exercise following a regular routine over time.
A post at one fitness site notes that,
“As your muscles shrink and you spend more time on the couch, your physical fitness level will drop. You might start to lose stamina, flexibility and energy within a few weeks of stopping regular exercise.”
And it is this gradual loss of flexibility and muscle strength that can lead to unexpected injuries and pain.
Your Solution for Chronic Pain and Performance Issues
Whatever the cause and whatever the reason, no one likes suffering from pain.
And no one wants to endure unnecessary pain if they are sidelined from working out or just getting back into a routine. And that’s where Pain and Performance Solutions comes in.
By understanding how your body moves through your pain and the compensation patterns and subsequent movement dysfunction, we can determine the best strategy for your recovery.
Pain and Performance Solutions is ready to schedule an initial consultation with you so we can learn more about your pain and explain how our approach can help us diagnose the real cause of your pain.
As with any diagnosis of an injury or chronic pain, the first step is getting to know you. We can’t determine how to diagnose your chronic pain without understanding your history and what you’ve been through and where you are now.