Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 March 2018

UAE orthopaedic experts warn of sudden exercise danger

Spending the day sat behind a desk then undertaking a short burst of physical activity may be doing you harm rather than good, say experts.

Jogging, cycling and other forms of exercise can do you good, but people should listen to their bodies before starting. Pawan Singh / The National
Jogging, cycling and other forms of exercise can do you good, but people should listen to their bodies before starting. Pawan Singh / The National

ABU DHABI // Spending the day behind a desk then taking a short burst of exercise could be doing you more harm than good.

According to orthopaedic specialists, intense exercise after sitting still for long periods could lead to torn ligaments or bone and joint injuries.

“Our bodies are designed to move but people are stuck in front of the computers and this puts a lot of stress on the spinal column,” said Dr Charalampos Zourelidis, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Dubai Bone and Joint Centre.

“They try to compensate for this and hit the gym in the evening.”

Instead, they should “keep moving all the time rather than for an hour a day”. Dr Zourelidis said he dealt with many patients in their 30s and 40s who returned to sport to lose weight and ended up injuring themselves.

“People are not listening to their bodies. They get injured and are in pain but continue to exercise because they are trying to lose weight fast,” he said.

“They must prepare for the game and it is necessary to do warm up and stretching. For certain sports, like skiing, the technique is important.”

People were also at risk of osteoarthritis if they exercised too rigorously.

Dr Zourelidis said the condition, which caused joints to become painful and stiff, affected about one in five of the population. “The people getting osteoarthritis are younger now. Normally there is no cure for osteoarthritis and we have to do joint replacements, which we try to postpone so that people are at least 65 to 70 years old,” he said.

“More people are getting to this stage in their 50s and even younger now.”

Shahzad Ahmed, 47, a Pakistani-Canadian IT consultant, began to suffer from musculoskeletal problems when he started exercising several years ago.

“I could not start the exercise routine as I would hurt myself and give up for a few months. I have learnt to train slower to become faster,” Mr Ahmed said.

“I was logging my activities and I noticed that after doing strength training in the gym, my heart rate and blood pressure shot up. That defeats my purpose of improving my health.

“I would rather do something slowly and do it on a continuous basis than injure myself.”

Dr William Murrell, orthopaedic consultant in sports medicine at Humeira Badsha Medical Centre in Dubai, predicted the incidents of musculoskeletal problems would increase in years to come.

“The average age of the population in the UAE is about 30 years, however this is slowly increasing as people are living longer, the birth rate is decreasing, and fewer people are leaving the country, ultimately giving rise to more musculoskeletal problems,” Dr Murrell said.

Two thirds of these cases occur red in men. The most commonly affected areas were the shoulder, knee, ankle and back.

“The most important thing for a healthy musculoskeletal system is having enough water, eating lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and avoiding excessive sugar,” Dr Murrell said.

“In case of most of the injuries physiotherapy helps, though the patient might need injections some times.”