While organizations like WHO go above and beyond to minimize global inactivity levels currently standing at 21% for adults and 81% for adolescents, little light is shed on the potential risk of injuries and infections that come with the territory. Yes, staying fit and participating in sports offers quite the range of physiological, cardiovascular and mental health benefits.
However, certain health issues can develop as a direct or indirect result of regularly working out. These can be caused by mistakes when working out, for example, wrong form, overdoing an activity, falls, collisions, pre-existing health conditions or extreme weather conditions.
Some of the consequent injuries and health issues include the following:
#1. Musculoskeletal Injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common form of sport-related injuries. They involve injury to the musculoskeletal system, which is made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. These injuries occur when one overdoes a workout, uses poor technique or pushes themselves too hard. They include injuries to the elbow and wrist (especially for tennis players), knee, ankle, groin, upper and lower limbs, hip, and shoulders. Musculoskeletal injuries come in the form of sprains, strains, contusions, fractures, abrasions, dislocations, lacerations, and ruptures.
Severe muscle injuries can lead to both structural and functional damage, as well as nerve injury. If your instincts tell you a workout is too much for your body to handle, you should probably avoid it. If you feel like you are straining beyond normal standards, you should stop the exercise in order to avoid damage. Should the damage already be done, elevate, rest and place ice on the injured body part.
#2. Bacterial, Fungal And Viral Infections
Moist surfaces provide the perfect breeding ground for infection-causing pathogens. These include sweat-drenched gym equipment, swimming pool decks, and locker room showers. Bacteria like Staphylococcus, for example, thrive on used locker room floors; showers and towels; and sweaty cardio machines and weights and can lead to an MRSA infection amongst others. Athletes foot is a common fungal infection among physically active people.
This is because they sweat a lot, and if they do not properly dry their feet, the Trichophyton fungi responsible for causing athlete’s foot starts growing on the skin between their toes. If untreated, it could spread to the toenails and soles, leading to itching, burning, redness and dry flaky skin. Viral infections can also be spread in the same way.
Thankfully, milestones in research on infectious organisms based on fermentation development and microbial strain, as reported by companies such as Bio-Technical Resources, have led to the manufacture of products like OTC antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral drugs. These drugs can be used to manage and kill even the most deadly pathogens.
If you would like to avoid such incidents, wipe gym equipment before use, carry your personal towel, and sit on a towel whenever you are in a public sauna or pool deck. Wear flip flops or shower shoes whenever you are in public showers, and avoid walking barefoot in gym locker rooms. Do not share shoes or socks, and make a point of cleaning them regularly.
#3. Hyperthermia And Hypothermia
Hyperthermia is a condition in which the body is unable to regulate its temperature, raising above the normal 98.6°F up to 106°F. It results from working out in humid and hot weather, alcohol intake, high-intensity workouts, and wearing dark colored, heavy, and an unnecessary number of workout clothes. It is characterized by profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, and disorientation.
Severe cases can cause heat stroke, which, in extreme cases, can lead to comas and even death. Should someone be hyperthermic, move them into the shade, loosen their clothes and give them cold fluids before taking them to a hospital. Hypothermia is the opposite, and is a condition where the body is unable to generate heat naturally when working out in extremely cold conditions, so the body temperature falls below normal levels. It can be remedied by moving the affected person to a warm environment, dressing them up in dry, warm clothes, and giving them warm fluids before seeking medical attention.
Hyponatremia, exercise-induced asthma, concussions, overuse injuries, insomnia, and emotional stress are among other common health complaints amongst athletes and the physically active. Thankfully, noninvasive treatment options do exist, such as topical creams, injections, and prescription drugs. Surgery is also available for severe cases like hip fractures. It is important to take time to properly recover before jumping back into regular workouts. This could take anywhere between 5 days and 8 months depending on the extent of damage and the location of the injury.