Sustaining a wholesome health program
Q1. I am 40 years old and have bursitis in my shoulder from lifting weights. Do I have to stop? And if so, how long?
You should take a break from lifting weights while your bursitis is active and painful. After you are healed, you can gradually start lifting again, but there is no guarantee that the bursitis will not recur.
Aside from bursitis (subacromial), shoulder problems related to exercise and trauma include bicipital tendinitis, rotator cuff tear, impingement syndrome, and acromioclavicular arthritis.
You may want to see a sports medic (usually an orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist) about lifting weights. They can suggest weight lifting strategies that can protect your joints and the structures around them, such as tendons and bursae. A qualified trainer or physical therapist can also be very helpful.
There are several modifications of the bench press, shoulder press, power clean, squat, and others that can be achieved by varying the angle and spacing of the arms, the position of the handles, strengthening the leg muscles, and other parameters. These rehabilitation measures can best be accessed in a sports medicine center with specialized staff.
You probably know that warm-up, stretching, and strengthening exercises are very important in preventing injury. Certain injuries such as rotator cuff tear or shoulder impingement syndrome occasionally require surgery.
I hope this information will help you choose a reliable program to protect your shoulders and enjoy your sport.
Q2. In the middle of my treadmill workout, I feel a headache that gets worse as the day progresses. Is that a sign of something serious? Should I retreat to the intensity?
Your headache can simply be a dehydration problem. I would start by drinking more fluids before, during, and after a workout. Regular water is fine, but flavored sports drinks and water encourage people to drink more. So this might be a better choice if regular water isn’t working for you. A common recommendation is to drink at least eight glasses (8 ounces each) of non-dehydrating fluids per day. While exercising, try to consume 16.9 to 33.8 ounces (or 0.5 to 1 liter) per hour.
Also, consider reducing your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a diuretic (it increases urine output) and can lead to dehydration (as can alcohol). If the headache persists during exercise, I strongly recommend that you see your doctor. While I am not aware of any specific medical conditions associated with exercise-related headaches, I do think it would be wise to bring this problem to your doctor’s attention.
Q3. I recently lost 85 pounds and unfortunately I didn’t do the resistance exercises that I was recommended to do. Now I have the armpit wingspan to match a flying squirrel! Is there a way now to tighten it up or get rid of it?
– Roxanna, North Carolina
First of all, you are way too tough for yourself. Congratulations on losing 85 pounds! This is a great feat, and no weight training could have stopped the excess skin on the underside of your arms.
Your skin’s ability to “snap back” after significant weight loss depends on age, gender, and genetics. Unfortunately, for most people who have lost a great deal of weight resulting in excess skin, usually the only answer is plastic surgery. If your excess skin is really bothering you, see your doctor to see if plastic surgery is an option for you.
Q4. I’m very good at weight training and my gains have been steady. However, I neglected cardio for this. Am I really backing up by not running? I feel great without it.
– Eli, Arkansas
You really need to mix in some cardio for optimal health. The goal should be 150 minutes a week of moderately vigorous activity (such as walking) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity (jogging). Warming up with aerobic activity for 10 to 15 minutes before lifting weights, and 10 to 15 minutes afterwards, goes a long way towards achieving the goals above.
Q5. I know it’s important to stretch before any fitness program. How long should my stretching routine be before I start exercising?
– Amy, Oregon
There are no hard and fast rules as to exactly how much stretching you should do and it really depends on the type and intensity of the particular workout you are doing. For a simple run, walk, or aerobic exercise, 5 to 15 minutes should be enough. More intense training such as the various martial arts may take 20 to 30 minutes or more.
Q6. I’m starting weight training after not having been to the gym for more than 20 years. The trainer at the gym told me to stick to weight machines, at least to get started. Do I really have to and if so, why?
– Brian, Pennsylvania
You don’t have to stick to the weight machines if you don’t want to. However, you need to appreciate that you haven’t been to the gym in 20 years and understand that you cannot get back what you lost in that time within a month of a workout. To begin with, you’ll need to get your body used to exercise and regain your strength (and flexibility) so you can work really hard.
Whether you use dumbbells or machines, you need to start slowly and build slowly. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, you need to focus on the long term and not worry about short term gains. With age, the saying “Slowly and steadily the race wins” gains in importance every year. While weight machines are typically safer – most eliminate the possibility of accidentally lowering the weight and prevent you from lifting in a way that could pull or tear a muscle – you can still injure yourself. When exercising with free weights, use caution and exercise with a partner who can recognize you and be willing to help you with a weight in case it becomes too difficult to lift.
I always recommend that people who have not been to the gym for an extended period of time team up with a good, certified and experienced personal trainer and have an exercise program developed that is tailored to their individual needs and goals. Your trainer should show you how to properly lift weights, and recommend how many pounds and certain exercises or machines will challenge your body without putting you in danger.
Q7. My 65 year old dad is an active runner and recently tore a muscle in his calf. He keeps running every day even though he says it still hurts. Shouldn’t he rest for a while?
– Sandy, Wisconsin
Many people try to keep walking despite injuries, but if your dad really tore a muscle he should stop walking and see his family doctor who may refer him to an orthopedic surgeon. A ruptured muscle is a serious medical problem. If your father doesn’t get medical help, it can disrupt the healing process and make the tear worse if he continues.
If a muscle tear has occurred, it will need a treatment plan, which will likely include physical therapy.
Find out more at the Everyday Health Fitness Center.