6 Times When Pushing Through Your Workout Is A Bad Idea
No pain, no gain? Not always.
Workouts are meant to be challenging. Fact. From getting a stitch while running to feeling the burn when strength training, a good workout can trigger all sorts of unpleasant symptoms, but no pain, no gain… right? Not quite. Some signs of discomfort during a workout are your body’s way of telling you to stop. Here are six red flags you should never ignore because doing so can cause much more harm than skipping the workout.
Listen to your body and work to be the best you can like runner Rosh:
1. Chest pain or discomfort
There’s nothing normal about getting chest pain during exercise, even if you’re young, fit and healthy. While it’s often down to something harmless, like indigestion or a pulled chest muscle, chest pain that comes on during exercise should never be ignored because it’s a classic symptom of heart disease – from angina (narrow heart blood vessels) to a full-blown heart attack. And with heart disease sometimes staying silent and only striking during exercise (remember Fabrice Muamba’s dramatic cardiac arrest during an FA cup match?), it’s always best to stop your workout if you notice chest pain or discomfort of any type.
2. Sudden shortness of breath
While getting out of breath is a sign of a good cardio workout, never ignore it if it comes on very suddenly or feels excessive. This is a classic sign that your heart or lungs are really struggling to keep up with the exercise you’re doing and that could be down to heart failure, a heart attack or an asthma attack – all of which can be fatal if you carry on with your workout. If you find yourself feeling short of breath during exercise and you’re not sure if it’s normal or extreme, don’t risk it. Stop your workout and visit your GP before exercising again.
There’s no situation in which dizziness during exercise is normal. It signals that your brain isn’t getting enough sugar or oxygen from the blood your heart is pumping to it. That could be because you haven’t eaten enough before exercising (low blood sugar) or because your heart and lungs aren’t working like they should be. Regardless of the cause, if you ignore feelings of dizziness, you’re at risk of fainting, which can put you in serious danger if you’re exercising outdoors, using weights or operating heavy machinery. If you feel dizzy when exercising, stop what you’re doing, sit or lie down until the dizziness passes, and eat or drink something if low blood sugar is the most likely cause.
4. Sharp pain
We’ve all been there: you’re killing your workout, the endorphins are flying, you’re in the zone and suddenly ‘ouch’! Whether you’ve gone over your ankle or pulled your hamstrings, sudden pain is a sign that you’ve pushed a muscle, tendon or ligament too far. And the best way of minimising the damage is to stop exercising immediately. It may be tempting to just finish that last rep, but doing so could be the difference between having a mild strain that heals within a week and tearing a muscle that puts you out of action for months. Don’t take the risk.
Palpitations are caused by an irregular heartbeat and often feel like fluttering or thumping in the chest. And because they can often come on without chest pain or shortness of breath, it can be tempting to dismiss them as nothing and keep going if they strike during a workout. But this is a bad idea because palpitations that come on during exercise can suggest you have a heart condition, called an arrhythmia, which can cause a stroke or heart failure if ignored. Always play it safe where palpitations are concerned. End your workout and go see your doctor.
6. Sudden headache
Headaches are caused by lots of things. Luckily, most of them are pretty harmless and easily fixed. However, if you find that you suddenly develop a headache when you’re working out, it’s important to stop what you’re doing – pushing through could make the underlying problem worse. It could be something as simple as dehydration that’s causing the problem, but with other conditions like stroke and brain bleeding also associated with headaches during exercise (especially if you also notice symptoms such as vomiting and double vision) it’s always best to avoid any exercise that brings on a sudden headache until you’ve been checked over by a medical professional.
Words by Dr Lauretta Ihonor