High-intensity exercise: Ease in, don't rush

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Going from couch to class? Experts say jumping into high-intensity exercise without the right prep work can cause injuries. (KABC)

Going from couch to class? Experts say jumping into high-intensity exercise without the right prep work can cause injuries.

Like many wanting to get in shape, Brian Schulze of Burbank did too much too soon.

"I tried the CrossFit. I got a little crazy," Schulze said. "It's the competition. You want to be better than the person next to you."

The end result was runner's knee, which makes squats nearly impossible.

"You have a lot of people who are not prepared going into it. CrossFit is basically an exercise program that's based around fatigue. They take you to your limits and then they push you," explained Ryan Link of Beach Cities Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

But CrossFit isn't the only culprit for exercise injuries. Many group exercise classes are packed, leaving the instructor little time to personalize corrections. Also, these workouts are often fast and furious.

Beach Cities orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brad Thomas says knees, the iliotibial or IT band, low back and shoulders are the most common injuries caused by such workouts.

"Tendons are not always elastic. Especially as we get older, our tendons become much less elastic, so if you load those without any warm up or kind of pre-loading, then you'll see injuries," Thomas said.

Along with a good active warm up, experts say should take things slowly. Not rushing is the best technique. If you can't do it slowly, you definitely want to modify.

"Pay attention to your body, very, very closely. If something is painful, it's probably better off to stop and try to figure out a different way to do it," Thomas reminded.

Sports trainer Jonathan Jones says here is how you can tell when it's time to quit.

"Most people get sore after workouts and there's varying degrees of that, but if it lingers the next day into a couple days, and each time you work out it starts to add up a little bit, you see a little swelling, it's time to go get a professional opinion," Jones advised.

Thomas says if you are among those going directly from couch to class, you should start with goals that are in line with your fitness ability, then move forward from there.

Take running for example.

"People tend to go for a five or six mile run when maybe they should have started with 100 yards," Thomas said.

Go slow and you're more likely to finish up injury free.
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