Bro, do you even stretch?

A student’s guide to a healthy, safe workout

Exercise isn’t always healthy.

Exercising too much or too often can strain muscles and cause injuries, and exercising with the wrong form can also put people at a greater risk for injury. Even at South Dakota State, exercise can become unhealthy for students.

CJ Gray, an exercise science major who used to work at the Wellness Center, said he would see about three injuries come through the Wellness Center each week.

“I saw injuries more frequently than I’d like to see,” he said.

Stretching is usually a way to prevent common injuries made during a general work out, according to Kerry Brown, the Wellness Center community fitness coordinator.

Common injuries from working out incorrectly include injuries to joints and ligaments, according to the American Council on Exercise Information. One common injury is knee pain if people use the wrong form with squats where their feet aren’t set right or are going too far down, said Sam Alfred, a biology and pre-chiropractic double major.

Common injuries from overtraining include straining muscles because people aren’t allowing muscles enough time to heal. Overuse of certain parts of the body also result in injuries such as tendinitis, inflammation of tendons in shoulder, elbows, knees and ankles, bursitis; ligament strains and cartilage damage, according to the American Council of Exercise Information.

Alfred hurt his back before he came to college, fracturing and herniating a disk from powerlifting. Alfred said the injury was due more to overuse than anything because he reached a tipping point from the wear and tear on his back.

One group of students who commonly work out are student athletes, who spend about six days a week training, according to Eric Adolph, assistant strengthening and conditioning coach in charge of men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. Under the guidance of coaches such as Adolph, student athletes take on strenuous workouts but work in a way to prevent injuries.

Coaches focus on ensuring athletes follow the proper technique and follow a periodized program where the students’ bodies are adjusted to what they’re trying to accomplish and to build off that progress.

When athletes do have injuries, Adolph said coaches use different methods to make sure the students aren’t putting any more exposure on the injuries than necessary. One of the most common injuries for basketball players is a stress fracture from running up and down the court.

For general students, Adolph said gradually building on what each person is able to handle is the best way to avoid injuries.

Brown said this is a common problem in cases of overtraining. Students won’t see the results they’re hoping for and will push themselves too far.

“In the fitness realm of things, a lot of people want to strive to look better and better and better, but what we should be looking at instead of what the mirror tells us is how we feel,” Brown said.

Alfred, who regularly exercises, doesn’t see students balancing their workouts enough to keep healthy as they exercise.

“There’s more to working out than people realize,” Alfred said. “They only think about superficial muscles that people see or get obvious results instead of thinking about overall healthy biomechanics and overall balance in their body.”

Gray, who works out about five times each week, said he makes sure to keep a holistic approach to his exercises. This keeps him from injuring overused muscles when he exercises, but also targets different parts of his body.

In the case of overtraining, muscles can be overused and strained. This results in injury, but also the possibility of being sick more often, feeling sore and feeling exhausted.

“It’s almost worse to over-exercise than not exercise at all,” Alfred said.

Brown said he’s observed students at SDSU who could potentially be overtraining. Gray said he’s seen students who’ve started to overtrain and become addicted to exercise.

“When you’re going three or four times a day in the middle of the night, losing sleep and it starts affecting your grades; when you choose to work out instead of hanging out with friends and family, then it does become an issue,” Gray said.

Two types of exercise, cardiovascular and resistance, are where students should find a balance in their workout, according to Brown.

“There’s a balance and there is a line we don’t want to cross, but general resistance and general cardiovascular will help to be more ready for activities in our daily lives,” Brown said.

Ways to prevent injuries include balancing between cardiovascular and resistance exercises, stretching regularly and knowing when students should stop pushing their bodies’ limits.

“Pay attention to what your body can handle every time you work out,” Gray said. “Everybody does strive to get better, but you can definitely go overboard if you just go 180 percent instead of just going 100 percent every time you’re in the gym.”