You’re in the middle of your workout, everything is going great, and then suddenly something feels off. There’s a twinge of pain, a tingling sensation, or a wave of nausea comes over you. Or maybe you don’t feel anything until later, in the form of soreness or shin splints.
Whatever the symptoms may be, the cause is likely that you’re doing something about your workout wrong. With the help of fitness experts Dempsey Marks, Jessica Smith and Valerie Orsoni, we’ve got a list of the top signs your workout is doing more harm than good, and ways you can fix the problems.
You’re Super Sore the Next Day
A little soreness can be good, but if you’re so sore you can’t move, you need to tone your workout down a bit. According to Shape Magazine, that level of soreness can indicate that you’re well on your way to an overuse injury.
Dempsey Marks, fitness expert, yoga trainer, and founder of DempseyFit.com, suggests decreasing the intensity of your workouts by lifting less weight or doing fewer reps. She also suggests properly refueling your body by eating a post-workout snack, like her Strawberry Banana Crunch Smoothie Bowl, full of carbohydrates and protein.
Your Feet Keep Falling Asleep
This is a typical problem of gym goers who like to multitask during their workouts. Sure they’re on the elliptical, but they’re also watching a movie or reading a book. According to Valerie Orsoni, founder of lebootcamp.com, these distractions can cause you to focus less on your form which makes your feet fall flat and asleep.
“Improve form by lifting the heels in a walking motion,” Orsoni said. “This will force the blood to flow around the feet and will most likely prevent them from falling asleep.” If that doesn’t work, she suggests alternating walking or running with strength-training exercises.
Shin Splints Turn Your Run into a Hobble
This is another problem runners can experience. If your shins are begging for mercy, it may be because you have suddenly increased the duration or intensity of your runs. Other possible explanations include using the wrong shoes or running exclusively on hard surfaces.
Instead of trying to improve by leaps and bounds, Marks suggests only increasing your mileage by 10 percent each week. She also recommends getting fitted with proper running shoes and trying to run on softer surfaces, like dirt trails.
You’re in Danger of Losing Your Lunch
Though some may disagree with her, Jessica Smith, certified personal trainer and creator of “The Ultimate Workouts for Weight Loss” DVD Collection, says feeling nauseated during a workout is a sure sign you’re going too hard.
Smith advises paying attention to your body throughout your workout. “If you get to the point where you are feeling queasy, back off and make sure you are breathing properly,” she said. “You may need to use lighter weight, move at a slower tempo, or simply take a short break.” She adds that if feeling ill is a regular part of your routine it may be time to try a new technique and/or trainer.
You’re Brought to a Halt by Charley Horses
Orsoni shared a story about a client who had experienced extreme cramping during Pilates. “After investigating, I discovered that he had been doing 500 crunches per day as well as 5 x 1 minute planks per day without a resting day. Upon arriving at Pilates and engaging this muscle group once more, his body went into failure mode due to overexertion.”
Taking proper rest time is the key to alleviating this issue. Orsoni recommends taking a day of rest every four days of working a specific muscle group, even if you’re not working it to the point of overexertion. If you do reach that point, she says a full 72 hours rest is needed to recover.
Your Joints are Protesting
Weight lifters especially may experience pain in their joints as they exercise. Marks points directly at improper weight lifting form as the cause of this painful and potentially dangerous problem.
Having a personal trainer analyze your form and make adjustments can keep you in proper form and from hurting your joints.
Your Side is in Stitches
Side stitches can be caused by multiple things, but Orsoni points at starting a running session too fast without proper breathing technique. If stitches go on without correction, they can cause micro-lesions in the intestinal track which may harm your digestive process.
Breathing easy is the best fix for stitches. Follow Orsoni’s advice and start your run at a jogging pace to establish a breathing pattern. Also be sure to stay hydrated before, during and after your run.
Cramps are Cramping Your Running Style
If you’re cramping when you run, it’s likely you didn’t wait for food or drink to be digested before you started. Other causes could be dehydration or breathing that is too shallow.
“Eat 1-2 hours before you run so that you are fueled but not still digesting your food,” Marks said. She also said drinking water throughout the day and not just when you’re active will keep you properly hydrated. As for breathing, she shared that breathing from your stomach rather than your chest can help you take the slower, deeper breaths you need for a run.