Safety should be your first priority when working out. To help avoid chronic problems, it is important to recognize and heed warning signs that something might be wrong.
• Exercise-induced anaphylaxis is a condition that occurs exclusively with exercise. Symptoms may include flushing of the skin, itching and hives, shortness of breath, and low blood pressure. Gastrointestinal problems and headaches may also occur. In severe cases, there may be swelling in the throat and upper-airway obstruction.
Symptoms often begin within a short time after starting exercise, typically diminish 30 minutes to four hours afterward and are usually brought about during moderate- to high-intensity exercise, such as jogging. Exercising in a warm or humid environment or after eating certain foods has been found to increase the likelihood of attacks.
• Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is a narrowing of the airways that causes breathing difficulties. Those with this condition often experience difficulty breathing within five to 20 minutes after activity begins. Along with shortness of breath, there may also be coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or chest pain.
• Joint pain. If the pain can be linked to a specific point in a bone, muscle or joint, and the same spot on the other side of the body does not produce the same symptom, this is a red flag. Despite the myth “no pain, no gain,” remember that exercise does not need to hurt to give you great benefits. If you experience pain while exercising, especially if it occurs suddenly, the worst thing you can do is to try to work through it.
• Foot problems. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the long, flat ligament on the bottom of the foot stretches irregularly and develops small tears, causing it to become inflamed. Symptoms are a dull aching or sharpness, which can be reproduced by flexing the toes upward. Heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis and occur when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone.
Some risk factors associated with developing plantar fasciitis and heel spurs include sudden changes in intensity or length of workouts, decreased flexibility in the foot and ankle, gait abnormalities, weight gain, improper footwear and tightness in the Achilles tendon.
• Numbness and/or tingling. These warning signals are often related to nerve compression, and may indicate serious injury or an underlying medical condition. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should be seen by a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.