Too much of a good thing means injury

Runners especially vulnerable

In the world of weekend warriors who overdo exercise, runners are especially vulnerable. Those who adopt the "No pain, no gain" philosophy are at risk for a wide range of injuries that are peculiar to their sport, says Connie Blouse, MS, CSCS, fitness director at The Richmond (VA) Athletic Club.

"Running is a great exercise for cardiovascular health, but it is very hard on the bones and joints," she says. "We see much more of those injuries in running, as opposed to cycling, step machines, or step aerobics classes. That's because of the repetitive pounding on the joints.

"Runners can get a lot of nagging overuse injuries, one after the other," she continues. "These can include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, tibial stress syndrome, patella femoral pain syndrome, and ilial-tibial band problems. They are all very common when people exercise hours and hours a day."

Not all running injuries are from overuse, she notes. "A lot of times they are due to training errors - too much mileage, a major change in the routine, too much speed too quickly, or a hard running surface."

Many of the warning signs are the same as those for other types of exercise addiction, says Blouse. "We watch out for people who are losing too much weight too quickly, who are tired all the time, who have a problem sleeping, or who are losing lean body mass," she says.

When members join, a fitness profile is conducted that includes a check of body fat, so Blouse and her staff have a baseline to which they can refer in the future. "This way, a few months later when we do a recheck and see that they have lost lean body mass, it tells us they are training too much, or they are not taking in enough food and calories."