Workouts: Can You Have Too Much Of A Good Thing?

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton

As humans we all, for the most part anyway, have a strong tendency to default to one extreme or the other in many things. Balance is a quality that many of us strive for, but that can be both ambiguous and elusive.

And finding a balance in attaining optimum fitness is no different.

“No Pain, No Gain” Can Be a (Chronic) Pain

One of the persistent myths of exercise, strength and endurance training, and working out is that it has to hurt. This can be pain in the moment while doing reps with weights, or in the interim just after and in between workouts.

Either way, pain – especially chronic pain or injury pain – is usually just a symptom of overworking your body or improper form and execution. In other words, doing exercises incorrectly or doing too much.  

Defining “too much” exercising is largely dependent on factors such as age, health, and choice of workouts. But according to the CDC, adults should get around five hours a week of moderate exercise or two and a half hours of more intense activity. Or some combination of the two.

But research shows that going way above and beyond that doesn’t increase your health benefits.

A Danish study found that,

“…those who did light to moderate running (in terms of pace, duration and frequency) were less likely to die over a 12-year period than non-exercisers. But strenuous joggers — fast pace, more than 2 1/2 hours a week, or more than three times a week — had a mortality rate similar to sedentary people.”

This unfortunately provides a morbid sense to the phrase, “Run till you drop.” 

The conclusion of the study’s researchers was that, “…higher doses of running are not only unnecessary but may also erode some of the remarkable longevity benefits conferred by lower doses of run­ning.” This is in line with a number of similar studies done in both Europe and the U.S.

Because of these studies, there has been a bit of a backlash in some circles against intensity training and other forms of extreme exercise regimens. Crossfit is a good example of intense workouts that aren’t really for everyone and can be debilitating to some. But everyone agrees that exercise and working out in general is both desirable and beneficial.

As an article at LiveScience notes, 

“Exercise provides many health benefits, but at some point working out too hard or too long increases the risk of injury and other adverse effects. That usually only happens with intense exercise, like training for marathons or endurance activities. Such challenging activities are perfectly fine, maybe even laudable endeavors, but if you’re looking for optimal health benefits, research suggests that more moderate workouts are generally the way to go.”

It’s Not Just Physical

Excessive working out can take a subtle form for most people since most people aren’t training for marathons, weight lifting competitions or engaged in extreme Crossfit. Most people who work out do to a gym or health club.

And it is easy to slip into an “overdosing” mode since “going to the gym” is such a socially acceptable and almost pedestrian activity for many people. 

But if you’re doing so more than, say, 5 or 6 times a week, or multiple times a day, you may be suffering from what might appear to be unrelated problems. 

According to a post on the MedlinePlus.gov website, 

“To get stronger and faster, you need to push your body. But you also need to rest.

Rest is an important part of training. It allows your body to recover for your next workout. When you do not get enough rest, it can lead to poor performance and health problems.

Pushing too hard for too long can backfire. Here are some symptoms of too much exercise:

  • Being unable to perform at the same level
  • Needing longer periods of rest
  • Feeling tired
  • Being depressed
  • Having mood swings or irritability
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Feeling sore muscles or heavy limbs
  • Getting overuse injuries
  • Losing motivation
  • Getting more colds
  • Losing weight
  • Feeling anxiety

If you have been exercising a lot and have any of these symptoms, cut back on exercise or rest completely for 1 or 2 weeks. Often, this is all it takes to recover.”

What is especially concerning is the potential for chronically sore muscles, joints and connective tissues (e.g. tendons, ligaments), or overuse injuries. These conditions can lead to more serious issues if left untreated and – more to the point – aggravated further by continued overwork.

Talk to Us Today About Your Pain Issues

Are you in pain after working out? It may well be that you really are “overdoing it.”

We invite you to call for an appointment and, during your initial consultation and assessment at Pain and Performance Solutions, we will learn all we can about your present pain and condition, along with any history of discomfort, as well as your current level of activity.

Treating and relieving your pain starts once we understand where and how your pain started.

A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery.

Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.

You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.