Ask the Professor: I Have Pain, Should I Still Train?

Ask the Professor: I Have Pain, Should I Still Train?

Professor Erin Calderone answers this burning question.

I think I may have an injury but am not sure. Should I work out?

If you’ve been training for a while, you’re probably no stranger to the next-day aches and pains you incur from attempting a new lift or hitting a new max. But sometimes pain appears out of nowhere, and in these instances, you should stop and assess your situation. Pain signals — no matter what the severity — are your brain’s way of telling you to put on the brakes to prevent further damage.

Here are some questions to help you determine whether you have an injury, what to do if you have incurred one and what you can do in the meantime to avoid a complete physique meltdown.

How long have I felt the pain, and what does it feel like?

Think back to recent training sessions and try to determine when it started. Was there a specific movement or exercise that may have caused it, or has it been slowly building over time?

A strain such as pulling a muscle often feels like a knot or excessive soreness if you move that joint or stretch that muscle. A sprain — aka a partial tear — feels like a sharp twinge, such as when you roll your ankle, and it may come with swelling and stiffness. With a severe injury like a full tear, you will likely hear and/or feel a pop in the area, which is usually accompanied by swelling. In those cases, it’s time to call the doc. You also should visit your M.D. if you are experiencing numbness, burning or tingling (indicative of nerve pain), pain deep in the joint (as opposed to in an adjacent muscle) or super-severe pain that keeps you from moving that limb or putting weight on it entirely.

When do I feel it?

If you feel pain only when the affected muscle is stretched and/or contracted, you are probably just sore from training or have incurred a minor muscle strain. If the pain persists and is consistently dull, throbbing or sharp — even when you’re not moving — there could be something else going on. Have it looked at to rule out a more severe injury.

How can I heal it?

Obviously, the first thing to do is to avoid the movement pattern that caused the injury until the pain subsides. For minor injuries like strains and sprains, you should rest the area for six to eight weeks and avoid any aggravating movement patterns. You should notice a reduction in pain within the first week. In the meantime, work on strengthening and mobilizing the area to help prevent the injury from reoccurring. For example, many hamstring strains occur when doing a Romanian (stiff-legged) deadlift because the hamstrings are stretched at both the hip and the knee. Here, optimize hip mobility with foam rolling, yoga and dynamic stretches like leg swings or walking lunges. Strengthen your glutes with bridging moves and your hamstrings with stability-ball curls. And, of course, for major injuries, follow the directions of your doc.

What kind of rest does it need?

Minor injuries need three to four days of complete rest and you can use ice or heat or both as needed to reduce pain. But this time frame is absolutely not written in stone, and in reality, you have to listen to your body. Forcing your body to work while injured can cause a change in your muscle activation sequences, which in turn can cause altered joint positioning and movement patterns. This can then then affect other joints or even make the original injury worse. A minor injury can become chronic when you try to push through the pain rather than allowing it time to heal. So if after four days you’re still in pain, by all means give it more rest or go see your doctor.

Can I still exercise?

You can certainly exercise in ways that won’t aggravate the injury or stress that particular joint or muscle group. For instance, if you feel a twinge in your knee, you can still train legs with exercises that emphasize the glutes such as hip thrusts or fire hydrants. Shoulders are trickier because they move in so many directions, so first identify any movements or positions that cause pain, then avoid those moves for a couple of weeks.

Remember, however, that these exercise substitutions and workarounds are not the same as corrective exercises, which help negate muscle imbalances and prevent future injuries. The workaround will definitely keep you active while giving that area time to heal, and once the pain dissipates, you can work on re-establishing your mobility and strengthening the stabilizing muscles to prevent a reoccurrence.

The take-away here is to listen to your body. Even minor aches and pangs are messages from your brain that your body needs a break. If the pain is severe or persists for more than a couple of weeks, pony up the copay and go see your doc. Even superhumans need help sometimes.

Written by NASM Master Trainer for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Gym

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Gym

Let’s face it — the gym isn't for everyone, and if you’re not a fan of crowds, packed parking lots or equipment christened by other people’s sweat, training at home could be your dream come true. The good news is that building a decent home gym is easier than ever, and the key to creating the perfect training space is selecting the equipment that best suits your goals, your space and your budget.

Check out these four spatial scenarios and their associated equipment suggestions. Then mix and match the gear from any of them to create a gym perfectly tailored for you. Hello instant workouts, goodbye excuses!

The Tiny House

Whether you literally live in a dollhouse on wheels or a studio apartment, you need to equip your space carefully to ensure that your gear doesn’t double as furniture. Portable, multifunctional equipment is best here so you can set up anywhere and get your sweat on.

Space-Saving Superstars

Suspension Trainer

A suspension trainer leverages your own bodyweight for resistance, and simply changing your angle or body position can modify any exercise to make it harder or easier. And because the trainer is just a simple set of straps and handles, it hardly takes up any square footage in a drawer or cabinet.

Resistance Bands

No room for a rack of dumbbells? Then invest in a set of resistance bands. They are cheap and versatile and can be used in place of dumbbells or barbells for just about every move you can think of. Purchase a few different “weights” to give yoursel options during training.

. Oxygen Magazine

Jump Rope

Not everyone has the space (or the money) for a treadmill or elliptical trainer, but truth be told, you don’t need a machine to get your sweat on. Jumping rope is one of the most time- and space-efficient ways to burn a ton of calories while building endurance and cardiovascular fortitude.

Sample Tiny House Setup

Total Investment: $400-500*

* All prices are estimates; cost will vary by brand.

Mobility/Strength Mash-Up

Either perform this workout using straight sets to build strength or create a heart-pumping circuit by doing the moves back-to-back with no rest in between for two to three rounds.

. Oxygen Magazine

The Suburbanite Setup

Out in the ’burbs, you have a little more room to kick around, and here a guest room or den can easily double as your workout space. In addition to being able to house all the suggested Tiny House gear, you are more at liberty to expand your equipment horizons. However, your space still needs to be multifunctional and neat with equipment that can be collapsed or hidden away when company calls.

Hideaway Heroes

Foldable Bench

Unless you’re planning on using your flat bench for extra seating at the dinner table, you’ll want to be able to stash it when your in-laws are in town. Most foldable benches collapse completely flat and can be rolled underneath a bed or hidden in the back of a closet.

. Oxygen Magazine

Parallel Training Bars

Though they look simple, a set of parallel bars can be used for hundreds of strength moves, and they are appropriate for exercisers of all levels. Perform moves such as dips, push-ups, L-sits and leg raises, as well as stretches and mobility training.


If you don’t have the wall space to house a bulky rack of weights, then an adjustable dumbbell set is a must-have. This system allows you to change your weight up or down in increments, and when not in use, it can be stashed in the corner without

Sample Suburbanite Setup

Total Investment: $1,375

At-Home HIIT

Perform as many reps as you can of each move in 30 seconds and rest minimally between exercises. Cycle (or do another form of cardio) for five minutes at a moderately intense pace, then rest one minute. Complete two to three rounds.

Garage Girl

Let’s face it — no one uses their garage for cars anymore, and besides, who doesn’t want the kind of fitness space that spills out into the driveway and makes the neighbors jealous? With this setup, you bring some of the niceties of a commercial facility into your own domain and will never have to share a chalk-crusted power rack again.

Great Garage Gear

CrossFit Home Gym Package

Even if you’re not into CrossFit WODs, a setup such as this delivers all the equipment bells and whistles in a single package, and usually at a lower price point than if you were to purchase all the items separately. Depending on the company, a package might include barbells, a rack, bumper plates, a rowing machine, a climbing rope, rings, medicine ball(s) and more.

. Oxygen Magazine


Whether you used to have cars in there or not, most garage floors are less than pristine, with oil stains, outdoor grime and (yipe!) spiders. A puzzle-piece rubberized floor is easy to install, allowing you to rise above the grit while also giving you the option of easy removal if you decide your car indeed needs shelter.

Plyometric Box

A solid plyo box is an incredible in-home tool and can be used to train your whole body with or without weight. Step-ups, dips, box jumps and endless plyometric drills are at your fingertips.

Vision Bored

When choosing a large piece of equipment such as a stationary bike, treadmill or rowing machine, consider the footprint (how much space it will take up), whether it can be easily accessed for maintenance or adjustments, and what is in your line of sight when you use it. Because it won't matter how many bells and whistles it has if all you have to look at is a blank wall.

Sample Garage Girl Setup

Total Investment: $5,230 – $5,730


After a thorough warm-up, complete as many rounds and reps as possible (AMRAP) of the following workout in 25 minutes. Record your score and try to beat it next time.

. Oxygen Magazine

The She Shed

If you’re lucky enough to have a no-limit budget, get your gym out of the house and into its own space. This custom setup includes state-of-the-art equipment that collects all your metrics, integrating on-demand boutique studio classes (such as those offered by Peloton and Technogym) and your own biostats to help you maintain motivation and track your progress.

The Bells and Whistles

. Oxygen Magazine

Peloton Bike

Enjoy the intensity and camaraderie of a group fitness class — without leaving your home. Peloton offers more than 90 live weekly classes that range from five to 90 minutes and that are led by some of the most popular instructors around. See your realtime metrics, such as heart rate, cadence and output, and then compare them with others who are virtually working out with you.

Multifunction Machine

There are a bevy of options (and price points) for this kind of equipment, so look for a product that allows you to perform a multitude of your favorite exercises. If you can see the machine in person, test it out and make sure everything locks securely and that all moving parts glide smoothly.

Skillrun Treadmill

This incredible piece of equipment gives you a treadmill, a sled and a parachute trainer all in one. It provides guided workouts and a large touch screen, and an easy-to-reach toggle makes increasing and decreasing speed and intensity a snap.

Sample She Shed Setup

Total Cost: $22,395 – $23,515

Killer Conditioning

Choose a light to moderate weight for the strength moves, and work at 70 to 75 percent max effort during the cardio intervals. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between strength moves, and complete the workout two times through.

Urban Outfitter

Want to outfit your home gym like a pro? Come to the IDEA World Convention July 8-12, 2020, in Anaheim, California, to test-drive the latest and greatest in fitness equipment on the expo floor!

. Oxygen Magazine

Making the Grade

Fitness equipment comes in different “grades” based on how much it is going to be used, and most large companies make multiple versions of the same piece: home, light commercial and full commercial. Home-grade equipment is typically the cheapest and will withstand consistent use by one or two people, at most. The light commercial version is more reliable and will have the sturdier feel of a piece you’d find at your local gym or box. A full commercial piece is an absolute necessity for anyone planning on having multiple people use it throughout the day — for example, if you’re setting up a small studio to train clients or have a number of friends chipping in on it.

Also, beware of the crappy stuff. “The biggest mistake people make when buying equipment online is not knowing the quality of the source,” says Ron Martin, sales manager at FitOne Fitness. Purchase from companies with a reputable name in the commercial and studio gym settings, even if you’re buying the home version of their gear. If you already train at a gym, you will recognize the more reputable names such as Precor, Life Fitness, Freemotion, Hammer Strength, York, Rogue, Perform Better and TRX. If it’s been a while since you had a membership and you’re unsure what is best at present, consult a specialized fitness equipment store and sales staff (steer clear of big chains) to steer you in the right direction, or attend a fitness conference expo and try

Written by NASM Master Trainer for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

Williamstown Lake – Flatwater Paddling

20170629_Kentucky_Williamstown Lake_Paddling


Mist rises off the rose-hued waters as the sun breaks over the lush green treetops. Paddles dip into glass-smooth waters, only broken by the rising of the fish and possibly the anglers that are stalking/after them. In the spring, the haunting calls of loons float through the air. Welcome to early mornings on Williamstown Lake.

The largest lake in northern Kentucky, Williamstown Lake is a public, 330-acre recreational lake and water reservoir. It was created in 1955 by impounding the South Fork of Grassy Creek and opened for boating, fishing, and swimming in 1957. It’s the main water supply for Grant County residents.

What Makes It Great

Nestled into the almost 20 miles of tree-lined shores surrounding Williamstown Lake are over 450 homes and rentals, making this a perfect destination to get a little taste of ‘summer camp’ with all the amenities of home. Launch a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard right from your temporary front yard. There is also a free public ramp and many boat docks that provide supplies and boat rentals. Wake up early for some bird watching while exploring the various coves.

Every August, the lake hosts an annual “Paddle Williamstown” event to encourage paddlers to discover this northern gem. For several hours they restrict the motorized boat traffic on the lake so that canoes, kayaks, and SUPs can have the water all to themselves.

If small craft fishing sounds appealing, the local fish population includes a wide variety of species including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, sunfish, channel catfish, bullhead, and redhorse sucker. The area’s marinas and fishing shops can provide detailed local beta and bait.

Just two miles away is the lake’s namesake, the charming city of Williamstown. Plan an afternoon to wander the craft shops downtown and stop for lunch at Shem’s Snack Shack for one of the best hot dogs in Kentucky. Also be sure to check out the old time soda fountain atmosphere at Elmer's General Store.

Who is Going to Love It

These flat, calm waters are the perfect place for active families who want to venture out for a day of canoeing, picnicking, and swimming. Kids can learn the ropes in an environment with no tricky maneuvers, but then practice their new skills of turning and paddle strokes in a fun, wooded cove. It’s also good for kayakers training for multi-day or distance events but want all the amenities nearby, or for any paddlers who want to rent a cabin with easy access to the water right out the front door.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The lake is just two miles east of Williamstown, and parking near the boat ramp is free. To get to the public boat ramp, take Highway 22 E out of Williamstown, then turn left on KY 489 (Fairview Road). From here, take a left on Summer Drive.

All Kentucky state regulations for boating and fishing are applicable.

Written by Lisa Collard for RootsRated in partnership with Kentucky Tourism and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by sabrynx

BOSU Circuit Workout: Balance, Burn and Build

BOSU Circuit Workout: Balance, Burn and Build

Bored with your routine? Throw your core a curveball (literally) with this 20-minute total-body BOSU circuit.

At the inception of functional fitness, there was the BOSU — a large, blue pimple composed of half a stability ball secured to a flat rubber platform. But unlike many “fad” training tools, the BOSU still holds its own, providing an unstable surface on which to train, thereby engaging more muscles and increasing the difficulty and inherent value of each exercise.

“The BOSU’s added layer of instability really forces you to engage your core and activate all your muscles,” says Danielle Natoni, AFAA personal trainer and ACE group fitness instructor based in Frisco, Texas, who created this total-body workoutexclusively for Oxygen. “It’s a great tool for quick workouts, building muscle and elevating your heart rate to burn max calories.”

. Oxygen Magazine

Lunge to Knee Drive

Dome side up

Place your left foot in the center of the BOSU dome and extend your right leg behind you, balancing on your toes. Lower into a lunge, reaching your left arm forward and your right arm back. Quickly extend your left leg to stand up on top of the BOSU, driving your right knee through to hip height while swinging your left arm back and your right arm forward. Balance briefly, then return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Make it easier: Do a toe tap instead of a knee drive.

Make it harder: As you drive your knee forward, add a small jump.

. Oxygen Magazine

Prone Superman Twist

Dome side up

Lie facedown with your abdomen centered on the BOSU dome and your feet spread wide for stability. Place your fingertips behind your head, elbows flared, and allow your upper body to relax over the curve of the dome. Lift your torso and simultaneously twist to the right, opening your chest to the side as far as you can while reaching your right elbow toward the sky. Pause, then lower to the start. Repeat, alternating sides.

Make it easier: Eliminate the twist and perform hyperextensions instead.

Make it harder: Between each twist, perform a hyperextension.

. Oxygen Magazine

Alternating One-Legged Push-Up

Dome side down

Get into plank with your hands on the edges of the BOSU platform and your head, hips and heels aligned. Lift one leg off the floor, and keep your hips square as you bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the BOSU until it’s nearly touching. Return to the start. Continue, alternating legs.

Make it easier: Keep both feet on the floor and focus solely on the push-up.

Make it harder: Pause for a count of two at the bottom of the push-up.

. Oxygen Magazine

Chair Squat

Dome side down

Stand on the BOSU platform with your feet hip-width apart, toes forward. Kick your hips back and bend your knees to squat down as you raise your arms overhead, aiming to get your elbows by your ears. Pause briefly, then stand back up to the start.

Make it easier: Do a half-squat in the same manner, or place your hands on your hips and do a full squat.

Make it harder: Pause for a count of two at the bottom.

. Oxygen Magazine

Alternating Spider Lunge

Dome side down

Place your hands on the edges of the BOSU platform and extend your legs behind you. Bring your right leg forward, bend your knee and place your foot next to the BOSU. Quickly hop and switch feet, keeping your hips low as you land with your left leg forward and your right leg back. Continue at an even, yet brisk, pace.

Make it easier: Eliminate the hop and bring your legs back together in plank before switching sides.

Make it harder: Increase your speed.

. Oxygen Magazine

Bird Dog Hold

Dome side up

Get on all fours with your knees on the BOSU, hands on the floor. Extend your right leg behind you and reach your left arm forward so both limbs are parallel to the floor, hips level. Hold here and breathe for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Make it easier: Place the toes of the extended leg on the ground.

Make it harder: Reach your arm and leg out to the side.

Written by Lara McGlashan for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine