No pain, no gain? Think again

No pain, no gain? Think again

To everyone who subscribes to the “no pain, no gain,” school of exercise, think again.

Dr. Sarkis Bedikian, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, says that when it comes to getting in shape for the first time (or after a long working-out hiatus), pushing yourself too fast and too hard may cause more harm than good ─ especially if you’re overweight.

“Everyone should avoid being sedentary and find ways to get active as often as possible. But incorporating exercise into your life doesn’t have to mean going to extremes,” he says.

Exercise programs that promise ripped abs and perky buns after a six-week round of 30-minute, high-impact workouts aren’t for everyone. “The wear and tear from continuous high-impact, high-intensity aerobic exercise could lead to osteoarthritis or serious injuries that may require joint replacement surgery down the line,” Dr. Bedikian explains.

In fact, researchers continue to investigate why a growing number of younger people are having hip and knee replacements; an active lifestyle may be to blame.

Consider this: with regular walking, every step impacts our knees with a force three to six times our body weight. For every 10 pounds you are overweight, you add an extra 30 to 60 pounds of force to your knees when walking. So, the knees of a 170-pound adult who is 20 pounds too heavy will absorb 1,020 pounds on every step. That impact is multiplied when you engage in high-impact activities.

The impact on our hips during routine walking is three times our body weight.

If you’re just starting to exercise, Dr. Bedikian says it may be a good idea to gradually strengthen the muscles that support your knees, hips and ankles before taking on strenuous activities. And if you’re overweight, you may also want to slim down with low-impact workouts to lessen the impact on your joints before taking on tougher physical challenges.

Dr. Bedikian recommends seeing a physician if you experience prolonged pain or soreness that causes you to change the way you walk or move.

Take our Joint Pain Assessment to evaluate your knees and hips. 

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3 Comments

  1. “Consider this: with regular walking, every step impacts our knees with a force three to six times our body weight. For every 10 pounds you are overweight, you add an extra 30 to 60 pounds of force to your knees when walking. So, the knees of a 170-pound adult who is 20 pounds too heavy will absorb 1,020 pounds on every step.”

    First you say “three to six times our body weight”, but then for your example you use the full six times without saying “up to”. Assuming your factoid is correct, a 170 pound person will absorb 510 to 1020 pounds per step. Furthermore, If the person is only 20 pounds overweight, they would absorb 450 to 900 pounds of that weight even if they were at their normal weight of 150, so the excess weight only adds 60 to 120 pounds per step. Methinks that, while you are technically correct, you are deliberately exaggerating for effect.

  2. Incidentally, this: “And if you’re overweight, you may also want to slim down with low-impact workouts.”

    It’s very hard to slim down with workouts. You can certainly build muscle, but weight loss with exercise alone is very difficult, especially if it’s only mild to moderate exercise. Secondly, the link in that sentence goes to an article about dieting, not exercise. In fact, dieting does lead to better weight loss than exercise, if weight loss is your main goal.

    • I believe he is referring to those who are using exercise as a means to slim down.
      I agree that a good diet is definitely a more effective way to loose weight. While doing so most people will work out in conjunction with the dieting hence a low impact work out is better for your joints and muscles especially for those who do not or have not excersised for a long period of time.

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About the Author

Cassie Richardson
Cassie Richardson

Cassie Richardson, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. She has more than 10 years of experience in health care communications, marketing, media and public relations. Cassie is a fan of musical theatre and movies. When she’s not spreading the word about health and wellness advancements, she enjoys writing fiction.

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