Your Body is Trying to Tell You Something (Take a Break)



by Nick Gallardo, BS, ACE-CPT

Overuse injuries are probably the most frequent ailments that I see in the gym.

Frequently, members of my gym come up to me and describe some knee/shoulder/elbow ailment that they started noticing X amount of weeks ago and continues to bother them. They then proceed to ask for a diagnosis and a prescription on how to make the pain go away. I’m no doctor, but I usually have a prescription for almost everyone and every ailment that comes my way: Rest.

When I ask when the last time they took a few days off, the face they make looks like I just insulted them.

You see, your body does a really good job of telling you when something is off, and your ego (not to be confused with your mind) does a really good job of convincing you that you can push through whatever is bothering you.

Oftentimes this behavior will lead to some type of overuse injury. Putting your body in a position where it is frequently unable to handle the stress placed upon it will more often than not lead to an injury.

A good (and proven) principle that I like to adhere to in situations like these is RICE.

No, not the complex carbohydrate that is somewhat difficult to cook perfectly unless you’re using minute rice. I’m talking RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Oftentimes, when an overuse injury occurs, the body’s response to the injury will be inflammation (think any diagnosis ending in -itis).

Rest - Pretty simple, don’t use the injured area for a few days, maybe even a week or two

Ice - If something is inflamed, we want to “cool” it down

Compression - We don’t want fluids to pool in the affected area, causing swelling and more inflammation. Something like a knee/elbow sleeve or compression sock comes to mind.

Elevation - Goes hand in hand with compression, elevating the affected area above heart level while prevent fluids from pooling

Now, don’t take this as the gospel and think that RICE is the answer to all of your problems. If something really hurts, go to a doctor. If you try RICE for a week and it still hurts, go to a doctor. If you have any acute injury that you perceive as severe, go to a doctor.

Example: If you break your leg, skip RICE and go straight to the ER. Do not pass go, do not collect $200