Compulsive exercise is an exercise routine in which individuals seem addicted to their sport. Instead of performing moderate exercises, they exercise excessively every day to achieve a desired body shape, improve performance or expend calories. They become so much involved with the exercise that missing a training session can often result in feelings of guilt and anxiety. Exercise becomes an obligation for them as they see this only way to reduce weight and maintain stamina.
Injuries and Problems Encountered When Exercising Compulsively:
Exercising too much makes the body exhausted, increasing the likelihood of fatigue and injury. The vast majority of compulsive exercisers suffer from overuse injuries such as ACL ruptures and tendinitis, muscle soreness, strains, sprains, and stress fractures. Numerous researches have revealed that people who compulsively exercise are at risk for developing eating disorders such as bulimia. Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting, extreme exercise, and taking laxatives and diuretics to avoid weight gain.
People who exercise too much have difficulty sleeping and concentrating. They feel exhausted and fatigued and find it difficult to spare some time for their family and friends. Moreover, overtraining can hurt immune system by stimulating the production of powerful stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Common Psychological And Physical Symptoms Of Compulsive Exercise:
- Frequent Calculations on amounts of diet consumed and number of training sessions performed per day
- Restlessness and anxiety because of skipping a session
- Missing family obligations because of exercise
- Exercising to the point of exhaustion
- Exercising solely to burn calories
- An elevated resting heart rate
- Amenorrhea (in girls)
- Overuse injuries.
Compulsive Exercise: A Serious Mental Condition
Compulsive exercise should be treated as early as possible as delaying the treatment can give rise to life threatening conditions such as heart attack and kidney failure due to excessive training and low intake of food. Those who are close to the compulsive exerciser such as a teammate or family member encourage him or her to seek professional help.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy makes a very important part of the treatment for compulsive exercise. A counselor will realize a sufferer that rest makes an important part of an athlete’s workout as it gives his or her body time to heal from the stresses put upon it by swimming, running, resistance training, or other activity. Family Based Treatment (FBT) has been shown to deliver positive results for patients under the age of twenty five.
Physiotherapy treatment has also been shown to stabilize the patient’s physical condition, which in turn helps restore normal eating patterns and psychological health. An expert at a physiotherapy clinic will design an individualized treatment plan which addresses underlying psychological and social factors that led to the development of the behavior and provides the patient with healthy alternatives to weight management.
Overuse injuries such as strains and sprains can be treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). ACL and tendinitis can be treated with soft tissue techniques and sport massage which will help improve mobility of the ligaments and tendons around the affected joint. Stress fractures will be diagnosed with x-rays and MRI. The affected limb will be immobilized with a splint or a cast to ensure proper healing. Once the limb has been healed, range-of-motion and strengthening exercises will help improve limb function and strengthen muscles.
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