Pain Point: Bottom of Foot
Common causes:?Running, dancing or increasing the intensity of any impact activity too quickly
Probable problem:??Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the ligament, or fascia, that connects your heel bone to your toes. The stabbing pain, located anywhere along the ligament, tends to be most severe when you first get out of bed. Exercising beyond what you’re used to can contribute to this condition. “As muscles become tighter and less flexible, they exert pressure on the fascia,” says Gerald Endress, a clinical exercise physiologist and fitness director at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Action plan:?Until the pain goes away, reduce the amount of time you spend doing impact activities or replace them with low-impact exercise, like biking. For some relief, experts recommend freezing a water bottle and rolling your foot over it for 10 minutes every couple of hours. And get fitted for orthotics, which may reduce the force your heel absorbs, according to a 2009 study. To speed healing, stretch and strengthen the muscles in your calves and feet three or four times a day. For the arches, sit in a chair, bend your knee and grasp the toes of one foot, gently pulling them toward you; for the calves, stand on a step and let your heels drop several inches until you feel a gentle pull. To strengthen the muscles in your arches, set a towel on the floor and pull it toward you with your toes. Cortisone shots are effective but controversial, according to Callahan. “I use them only as a last resort, because they increase the risk of rupturing the tissue,” she says.
Pain Point: Lower Back
Common causes:??Almost any activity
Probable problem:?Exercising with a weak core. “It places undue stress on the disks and muscles in your lower back,” says Jo Hannafin, MD, orthopedic director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Action plan:?Most back pain improves without medical intervention. (But see your doctor if the pain prevents you from following your daily routine.) Doctors now discourage bed rest; instead, once the worst pain subsides, do aerobic, flexibility and strengthening exercises and resume your normal activities. “When people stop doing things they enjoy, they may become demoralized on top of the negative emotions that often accompany pain,” says Michael Von Korff, ScD, a senior investigator at the Center for Health Studies in Seattle. To ease back pain, stretch your hamstrings by putting the heel of one foot on a stair and leaning forward until you feel a slight stretch in the hamstring of your back leg. Prevent further injuries by doing exercises that work the core, such as yoga and Pilates.
Pain Point: Shoulder
Common causes:??Lifting too much weight over your head, serving a tennis ball, swimming, paddling a surfboard
Probable problem:?Rotator cuff injury. Your “cuff” is a group of muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade and help hold the bone in the shoulder socket. If you irritate or tear the rotator cuff area through overuse, pain may radiate down your arm. Women often experience this problem because of poorly designed, unbalanced exercise programs that don’t adequately strengthen the shoulders, arms, chest and upper back, says Hannafin.
Action plan:?Avoid motions that stress your shoulders; ice the area for 15 minutes every two or three hours for the first few days to reduce pain and inflammation. To prevent stiffness, stretch the muscles by bending your elbows and pulling them gently toward each other behind you, squeezing your shoulder blades together; hold for 10 seconds and repeat three to five times. Rotator cuff injuries usually heal on their own within two weeks, but if the pain is severe or you’re unable to use your arm, see a doctor.
Pain Point: Elbow
Common causes:?Strength training or playing tennis