Weighing In: Damage Control

Each week, our own fitness fanatics Leah Polakoff and Caitlyn Kronket will explore the latest workout crazes, diet fads and dish out tips for healthy living. Managing your schoolwork is tough enough- let us take care of your health.

When I limped off the treadmill the other day, I realized my body was sending me a message: It was time to switch up my routine.

I’ve read enough Women’s Health to know that consistently working the same muscles not only strains your body but increases your risk of both minor (think a pulled muscle) and major (a stress fracture) injuries.

Rather than tossing in the towel, I asked Jill Garrigan, Penn State’s Intercollegiate Athletics Fitness Coordinator, for some recommendations. Together, we came up with a list of low-impact (but not necessarily low-intensity) workouts that will enable you to stay moving and still achieve results.

Looks like that limp of mine had a silver lining after all.


Aside from toning head to toe, yoga can also eliminate achy muscles. Self cited a study from “Spine” in which participants who did two 90-minute yoga sessions per week (for about six months) reported a decrease in muscle/joint discomfort by 56 percent.

Stock up on some inexpensive DVDs (Garrigan recommends those of Jay Blahnik, Karen Voight and Lawrence Biscontini) and de-stress in your dorm or apartment. You can also check out Lotus Center Yoga (129 Pugh St.), University Health Services (classes are free and target beginners), or the campus gyms (both Rec Hall and the White Building). “Vinyasa” your way to a session today and start healing and toning.


You might be thinking: “Aren’t yoga and Pilates the same thing?” To clear up any confusion, Garrigan explains that while both are considered non-traditional fitness practices, the two workouts are, indeed, different.

Yoga, she says, is about “breathing, meditation and poses, and [is] designed to deal with focus and mind-body [connections].”

Pilates, on the other hand, “has to do with stability in the core, which is all the muscles that attach to the spine both front and back. Pilates is more functional.”

While Pilates may not get your blood pumping quite like higher-impact exercises,
Garrigan assures that “it is a great way to keep moving while resting that angry body part.”

So, if high-impact is out of the question and you’re looking to improve those abs, Pilates is your answer. Classes are available on campus and at the Centre County YMCA.


It sounds easy, right? Working out while sitting down…where’s the challenge there?

Well, think again and expect to break a sweat. Spinning (or cycling) is unique for its tendency to not only torch major calories during your session but post pedaling as well.

Unlike yoga and Pilates, this is an excellent way to feed your cardio addiction while still reducing pressure on your knees and shins. Garrigan notes that cycling is “less impact than running” and “takes half the body weight off the legs.” Plus, most classes incorporate fun, up-beat music that gets your legs and heart racing.

Final Recommendations

For minor pains, Garrigan recommends simply resting for two days and refraining from practicing the “offending” activity until you’re feeling 100 percent. As for major injuries, she stresses I.C.E. (ice, compression and elevation) and consulting a doctor if things don’t improve after 48 hours.

And for those of us who have a hard time sitting still, she stresses one more time: “The first prescription for almost every injury is rest!”

Photo by Tyler Hankins


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