Whether you’re fit right now—or working toward it—it’s vital to listen to the warning signals your body sends out when something is wrong. Dr. Ed Laskowski, from the Mayo Clinic’s Sports Medicine Center, warns that even healthy young athletes (who may be inclined to dismiss aches and pains as normal, rather than believe them to be warning signs of injury or illness) should play close attention.
One typical symptom of injury is an aching back. While there are many reasons for nagging back pain, it could be the result of excessive belly-busting that develops your abdominal muscles unevenly. According to New York fitness guru Marty Jaramillo, any imbalance “feeds on itself”—and if there’s too much focus on the abs, let’s say, pectoral and back muscles also will likely weaken, leading to a risk of injury.
Another symptom to mind is tight knees and sore joints, ironically often caused by overstretching, exercising on outdated technology or incorrectly setting the workoutparameters of your fitness machine. This, warns Jaramillo, can result in inflammation and injury to muscles and ligaments, and invite serious sprains.
To alleviate the injury risks, it’s important to exercise in such a way that all muscle groups work in concert with each other—and ensure that one group isn’t dramatically favored over another. Two fitness machines that help accomplish that goal are the compact Bravo functional trainer from Cybex, and the new 6-Pack Trainer from Tuff Stuff.
Separate from physical soreness, other symptoms of illness include unintentional weight loss that could be caused by diabetes; aching breasts that could be caused by anything from a chafing sports bra to something more serious; a dry cough provoked by exercise that might in fact be adult-onset asthma; and chest pains that could be indicative of a heart attack. The challenge is to read your body right, or see a doctor if you aren’t sure.