High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is to the fitness world what the combination of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and possible execution of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is to unaware citizens: something glorified to have a lot of benefits. However, certain misrepresented and underrepresented loopholes can make it backfire on those supporting it in full swing—in the form of painful injuries, we mean.
Surely, there’s no denying the fact that putting your maximum physical capacity to use for a short period during your workout as a part of the HIIT regime can get your heart rate up and your weight down. In fact, several studies including the one published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise have strongly supported its effectiveness.
But, all the crazy running, sprinting, jumping, burpee-ing and so on does have a downside as well. The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine have issued specific guidelines that suggest keeping HIIT limited to 20 minutes per workout and not indulging in it every day just for the sake of losing weight.
So, we got in touch with Dr Kruti Khemani, sports physiotherapist and founder, Continuum Sports Physiotherapy and Rehab in Mumbai, and found out about all the times when you should refrain from doing this otherwise-beneficial form of workout. Check ‘em out:
1. If you’re a beginner
According to a study conducted at the Western State Colorado University, HIIT has a high risk of injury associated with it—especially if you don’t get performance and breathing techniques right.
Needless to say, if you’re new to working out, you must learn the techniques first and strengthen your body before treading on the physically-taxing path of HIIT.
“If you are new to any kind of exercise, then HIIT should not be introduced before three to four weeks of learning and practicing the basics of exercising like warm-ups, functional exercises, muscle strengthening, proper stretching, and cooldowns,” says Dr Khemani.
“Additionally, HIIT should be avoided if you are not being supervised by a professional,” she warns.
2. If you have any cardiovascular issues
Although HIIT is deemed safe for most people, there are understandable concerns for heart patients when it comes to high-intensity exercises as they get your heart rate up.
“It is, therefore, advisable to ensure that you have a clearance from your cardiologist before starting HIIT and that you practice under the supervision of physiotherapists and cardiac experts,” Dr Khemani suggests.
3. When you’re hungover
“A major problem with a hangover is dehydration. So, participating in an HIIT session during that time means causing further dehydration,” Dr Khemani points out.
“Also, due to low blood sugar levels during a hangover, the body is more prone to fatigue, lack of coordination, and hence the risk of getting injured increases,” she adds.
4. If you’re injured or have just recovered from an injury
“It is best to provide the required rest to your injured muscles for a complete recovery,” advises Dr Khemani.
And if HIIT is on your mind right after having suffered an injury, you’ve got to keep this in mind: “You need to ensure that you have attended the required rehabilitation with a physiotherapist and reached your pre-injury fitness level.”
After all, you don’t want to strain your already-injured muscles and get back to being on bed rest again, right? So, unless you have a green signal from a health professional, steer clear of HIIT.
5. If your bone health is out of whack
Dr Khemani recommends that people suffering from bone problems like osteoporosis or a reduced bone density should steer clear of HIIT as this form of exercise can be physically very demanding and strain your already-weak bones further, leading to a risk of injuries like fractures and whatnot.
6. If you’re pregnant or a new mother
This one’s a no-brainer. You don’t want to risk your child’s life while he/she breathes inside you. So a mild form of exercise, walking, and yoga is what pregnant women should stick to.
As for new mothers, surely you want to get rid of the extra weight you put on during your pregnancy. However, Dr Khemani suggests that you shouldn’t try HIIT for the first three months after childbirth
7. If you’re sick
Obviously, you want all your body’s energy to be spent on recovery and not get wasted on HIIT while you’re leading a life in sickness. You can get back to it once you recover.