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Conditioning or Strengthening Exercise


      Conditioning or strengthening exercise intensifies and builds muscle mass. Examples of conditioning and strengthening are weight training, isometrics, resistance training and aerobics. Strong muscles in firm condition have less tendency to spasm and cause pain so an intelligent, consistent strengthening exercise program is useful to preventing muscular pain.
      In order to strengthen a muscle you must use the muscle and to use the muscle you must tense it. Muscles only work by contracting. If a muscle is already tight and hurting, trying to strengthen or condition it through exercise will only worsen the pain. It is not possible to strengthen a tight muscle or one in spasm. The muscle must first be relaxed by stretching, myofascial release or other means. When a muscle is causing pain do not exercise it until you get it to relax and stop hurting. Once the muscle is relaxed, strengthening exercise should slowly be added very gently under careful guidance of a physical therapist or doctor who understands this principle.
      There's an old saying, "The dosage makes the poison." Overindulgence in anything can be bad, including exercise. Pushing your body to its limits can make it stronger; pushing your body beyond its limits can cause serious damage. Running and aerobics put an enormous strain on the feet and ankles. Proper shoes can compensate for some of this, but caution is still the best course. If you run, don't increase your distance by more than 10% per week. If you do aerobics, try using a soft mat or trampoline to minimize the shock to your feet. It's especially important to warm up prior to your exercise session. Stretching can loosen up the muscles and tendons of the foot and make them more resilient. Prior to embarking on any exercise program, a thorough checkup by a doctor is highly recommended. For more information on exercise and your feet, consult a foot care specialist in your area.

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