6 Side Effects of Exercise That May Not Be Normal
Chances are, there's little cause for concern. But keep these in mind.
You expect to sweat during a hard cardio workout or to feel your heart
pick up its pace, and maybe your muscles become a little sore afterward.
But sometimes your body does something unexpected. You shake,feel dizzy or otherwise experience a physical symptom that seems out of the ordinary.
Should you worry — or is it simply part of getting in shape when
you’re over 50?
We talked with experts about the six most common workout side effects,
what’s a normal part of exercising and when it’s time to seek
1. Your shoulder clicks
A clicking noise in your shoulder when you raise your arm up or out to
the side may seem alarming but is actually very common, especially as
we age, says Dr. Russ Petri, orthopedic surgeon with Hoag Orthopedic institute,
“Sometimes this happens earlier in life, others later. But most importantly,
the clicking or popping should not be accompanied by pain,” notes
Petri. He says it’s often hard to determine the cause of the sound,
but can be due to minor scarring in the bursa area or simple wear and
tear of the tendons in the shoulder.
If you experience shaky muscles after your workout, it may be a sign your
blood sugar is running low.
— Irv Rubenstein, exercise physiologist
If it causes pain, keeps you awake at night or the pain does not go away
within 48 to 72 hours, Petri suggests scheduling a medical evaluation.
2. Your knees crunch when doing lunges or squats
Blame breakdown of cartilage under the knee cap for the crunchy sound your
knees make during a set of squats. This can also start early or later
in life, says Petri.
“The resulting grinding-like sensation is not usually a problem when
there’s no pain along with the sound. However, doing deep squats,
particularly with added weight, can accelerate the process and over time
and lead to further damage and even arthritis,” he notes.
Running and jumping activities increase the risk. If the grinding is painful
seek medical attention. But rest assured almost everyone develops some
during their life, says Petri. “If your knee ‘locks,’
where the knee cannot be moved without pain, it should be evaluated further,” he adds.
3. Your muscles shake
Shaky muscles can occur during your workout or afterward. “The cause
depends on when it happens,” says Irv Rubenstein, exercise physiologist
and president of S.T.E.P.S., a Nashville, fitness training center.
“If you experience shaky muscles after your workout, it may be a
sign your blood sugar is running low. Your body may not be used to using
glycogen (stored glucose, or blood sugar) for work,” says Rubenstein.
When your muscles shimmy and shake while
lifting weights it’s actually a form of
tetany, or spasms, says Rubenstein. “It’s what happens when a muscle
can’t quite relax,” he adds. Twitching muscles during an isometric
exercise such as a wall squat are likely fatigue-related, Rubenstein adds.
“In either case, it’s not dangerous,” says Rubenstein.
4. You’re short of breath
Pushing hard on cardio can make you feel fatigued and short of breath and
is a normal part of building endurance, says Dr. Aidan R. Raney, interventional
cardiologist with St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, Calif. “But if you’re
doing an activity you’ve done in the past without this same symptom,
it could signify a heart problem,” Raney says.
Pay heed especially if the symptom is also accompanied by chest pain or
pressure, palpitations, lightheadedness or nearly passing out. If you
experience any of these issues, seek a medical evaluation, which includes
a supervised stress test to monitor your heart’s activity and ensure
it’s functioning properly.
5. Downward-facing dog gives you indigestion
Eating or drinking too close to a workout that involves downward positions,
such as some poses performed in yoga, can cause feelings of indigestion.
“You should avoid eating for an hour before a workout,” says
Dr. Oren Zaidel, gastroenterologist with Torrance Memorial Medical Center,
Torrance, Calif. “In some cases, however, indigestion may be caused by a
hiatal hernia(weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter that allows the stomach to
herniate into the chest cavity).”
Zaidel suggests trying over-the-counter antacids 30 minutes before the
workout. If you continue to have symptoms, consult your gastroenterologist
for advice and to discuss the potential need for tests.
6. Your spine cracks when you bend or reach
Experiencing a popping or cracking noise in your spine may sound scary
but it’s not much different than popping your knuckles, says Dr.
David Geier, orthopedic surgeon in Charleston, S.C. “The sound comes
from the joints in the spine.”
Unless the cracking becomes painful or is accompanied by numbness, tingling
or weakness, you’re likely fine. See a doctor for an evaluation
if these other symptoms occur, however, says Geier.