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Breaking up your fitness routine is hard to do. But it’s crucial for avoiding the bigger heartache of overuse injury, fitness experts say.

“People tend to do the same thing over and over again, without varying it, without taking adequate rest, without building slowly, and they end up with an overuse injury,” said Geralyn Coopersmith, national manager for the Equinox Fitness Training Institute.

“Tendonitis, bursitis, fasciitis, these kinds of inflammations are pretty much guaranteed if you don’t vary your training,” said Coopersmith, who oversees the training of 1,400 personal trainers in 48 Equinox clubs nationwide.

Yet she concedes that even clients who complain of nagging aches and pains are loath to change their routine.

“People get terrified. They’ll say, ‘The treadmill made me lose weight.’ Well, exercise made you lose weight. The treadmill was the modality. That doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the best way,” she explained.

“Most people don’t cross-train enough,” she said. “Maybe they’ve been doing yoga for years so their flexibility is great but ask them to hold a plank position and there’s no core strength at all.”

More than pain

For Adrian Shepard, fitness director for the recreation department at Butler University, over-exercisers can suffer more than pain or poor performance.

“Overall it’s a tricky thing to notice,” he said. “Some signs, like sleeplessness, apathy, depression and difficulty concentrating, may be associated with other conditions. You really have to focus on the big picture.”

Shepard says some young adults he works with at the Butler campus in Indianapolis are especially vulnerable.

“Most at risk are those training for an event or sport,” he said, “or those with a preoccupation with being thinner.”

He stresses the importance of consulting a fitness professional.

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