NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION
29 Dec 16
A New Year, A New You?
It's that time of year, you know..... where we all dream of being better versions of ourselves. For some it's cutting back on the booze, maybe getting more sleep or spending more time with loved ones. Whatever has made it to your resolution list I'm taking a bet that somewhere on that list exercise has featured in some shape or form? If you are like most, it probably featured last year too. Maybe you succeeded with your aspiration to walk more, return to a team sport, take up running, compete in a triathlon, cross fit...................congratulations if you did! Sadly, for many of the patients who seek the help of a Physio, things didn't quite go as they planned.
The most common reasons for ending up needing some help are:
1. Getting back into exercise too quickly after time off.
2. Overly aggressive exercise progression.
3. Bad form/technique.
Of course there is always an element of overlap with these 3 issues. Exercise that is too difficult for your current level of fitness will lead to bad form and injury follows shortly afterwards. Frustration of not achieving what you set out to and feeling let down by your body can lead to a big dent in your enthusiasm and so it goes on.....
Prevention really is the key, so here's a few pointers to help keep you injury free this January and beyond:
1.Building strength and making changes to your appearance takes time - be patient!
The good news is that you will see small changes in the first 2 weeks of a fitness program. This is simply due to improved neuromuscular control - better communication between your brain and muscles, so that muscle recruitment improves. If you stick with it, over the next 4-6 weeks you should begin to notice some changes in the muscle appearance, as during this period your muscles will be growing by adding more muscle cells.
2. Keep A Check Of Your Form/Technique
This is an easy one to fall foul of. Maybe you've seen a great looking exercise program in a magazine or on the internet which has promised fast results, or have started a new class and want to keep up. Enthusiasm for getting to the end of the routine may be at the sacrifice of the correct execution of the exercises. Slow down and really pay attention to technique. Sacrificing reps if you need to in the beginning to keep good form is key - it will not only reduce your risk of injury but should improve the results of the muscles you are targeting. If you can, use mirrors to check on your form, have a few coaching sessions, or if you getting into a technical sport like cycling, invest in a professional bike set up.
3. Know When To Stop
It can be hard sometimes, but listen to your body. It will tell you when you are moving beyond challenging and into injury territory. If you find yourself holding your breath, this is a good indicator that you are trying to work beyond your current level of capability. Muscle pain rather than fatigue is also a good sign that you are causing harm. An ache felt in the middle of the muscle when exercising, but which is relieved as soon as you stop the activity is a sign that you are challenging your muscles. However pain at the muscle insertion (where the muscle attaches onto the bone) or in a joint, is your body letting you know it's time to call it a day. If your symptoms don't settle with a few days rest, it may be time to seek some advice to get you back on track.
Whenever, you start a new exercise routine in particular, it is normal to experience delayed onset muscle soreness for up to 36 hours. If your discomfort extends beyond this period you know you've gone too far. Listen to your body, don't ignore it and continue with your program regardless. Rest up until your symptoms subside and modify your routine.
4. Stay Balanced
Make sure that your program is comprehensive. Don't just focus on 'The 15 minute Killer Ab' routine or purely focus on running. A rounded approach is necessary in order to avoid muscle imbalances, faulty postures and ultimately injury and poor results. Try and ensure your weekly routine includes elements of aerobic, strength, balance, core and flexibility in order to cover all bases.
5. Be Realistic With Your Goals
It's great to set the bar high when it comes to setting goals but be realistic and honest with yourself regarding your current level of fitness. Just because you used to run a 10K in X number of minutes doesn't mean that you will be able to replicate that 3 weeks into your new routine. Sadly, muscles can begin to lose the training effect approximately 5 days after a workout so trying to start where you left off will only lead to injury and frustration.
When you are getting started, be critical of your current level of fitness, the length of time since you last trained and any injuries/illness/operations you may have had since then. Try and design a program that has steady increases in intensity, frequency and duration and stick to it!
Well it only remains for me to say, good luck with whatever your goal is for the year ahead.