HEALTHLINE: Working through workout injuries

Updated: Feb. 11, 2020 at 9:34 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In January, it’s gyms that see the rush as millions resolve to get off the couch and onto the treadmill, but by February, many end up in physical therapy dealing with workout injuries.

“They start hard, fast and do things that they probably are not able to do correctly,” said Dr. Seth Kaplan, president and CEO of Baton Rouge Physical Therapy – Lake.

A CDC study found there are more than 8.5 million sports and recreation injuries every year.

Julie Russell knows the risks. As executive director of Healthy Lifestyles for YMCA of the Capital Area, Russell sometimes needs her own recovery time.

“You find those little twinges when they stay with you longer, and they become painful,” she said.

Russell’s favorite technique to feel better faster is dry needling. It involves a quick, relatively painless prick that allows a physical therapist to reach deeper muscles through trigger points.

“We reset the muscle, and when it twitches, it resets the tension in the muscle,” Kaplan explained.

“When I first started when I was running, they would dry needle me, and I would get up out of here and an hour later go take off and run a number of miles,” Russell said.

Targeted stretches and exercises can also work wonders, and there’re an easy thing anyone can do at home.

“What most people don’t think of as important is rest. If you’re starting a new program, you’ve gotta’ give your body a chance to rest,” Kaplan said.

“We have to be able to say, ‘I’ve got this injury or this little tweak or whatever it is. I might need to step out of class or take it easier,’” Russell added.

Both say whatever you do, don’t let an injury hurt your spirit. They recommend managing the issue and getting back to your goals.

“The best athletes in the world have injuries they have to work through,” Kaplan said.

“You have to get up and keep moving. It’s about movement for life, not about a short period of time. It’s a way of life,” Russell said.


  • Achilles (heel) tendonitis: Common for those who try to go from “couch to 5k” too quickly
  • Patella (knee) tendonitis: Affects those who do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and runners with IT (Iliotibial) band issues
  • Hip bursitis: Likely to cause pain in couch-to-5K-ers and runners with IT (Iliotibial) band issues
  • Rotator cuff/bicep (shoulder/arm) tendonitis: Most common in lifters (Crossfit, F45, bootcamp)
  • Lower back pain (not an “itis” but very common): Lifters and cyclists most susceptible


  • Heel pain: Light calf stretches. Use a foam roller on calf muscle. Stick foot in a bucket of ice.
  • Knee pain: Stretch quads. Foam roll IT band (outer thigh) and quadriceps.
  • Hip pain: Bend knee to opposite shoulder (piriformis stretch). Ice hip.
  • Rotator cuff pain: Apply ice to shoulder. Stop overhead activities. Do upper trap and door frame stretch.
  • Low back pain: Hip flexor, hamstring, and piriformis stretch


  • Invest in proper footwear
  • Improve tissue elasticity and prevent injury with a light warm-up (get heart rate up)
  • Start slowly with a new fitness plan (two to three times a week and increase frequency monthly)
  • Allow time to recover (take days off!)
  • For running, focus on time/distance first, then speed/intensity second
  • Use ice and a foam roller for post-workout recovery
  • Cross-train with different activities
  • Make sure you get proper nutrition to support workouts (no drastic change to diet)

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