New Year New Me! – By Simon Case
“2020 is the year I’m going to get fit!! I’m going to join the gym, start playing squash again, dust off the bike, go for a run in the evenings…”
(A lot of people, 2019)
In some way shape or form fitness and health are a priority for a lot of people at the beginning of the year, which is great! However it is also a busy time of the year for musculoskeletal injuries.
Here are 7 key points to make sure you start your new year training / exercise the right way and not end up injured during the first week.
7 Key Points
Pick Something you Enjoy
Not everyone was destined to work out in the gym for hours on end lifting weight, or run 10KM everyday on a treadmill or play football, rugby or tennis.
There are an array of activities / sports / clubs available, (especially in Abu Dhabi) so find something you enjoy or fancy trying and give it a go! You are much more likely to continue with a sport, exercise or activity if you enjoy it, rather than seeing it as a chore!
Warm up / Cool Down
Before participating in any exercise or physical activity you should prepare the body by gradually increasing the heart rate (HR) and loosen up / dynamically stretch the joints from head to toe. This reduces stress on your heart as your HR is gradually increases from resting rate and loosens the joints and tissues ready for activity. This is also a great way to identify issues prior to participation, for instance if during a slow warm up you notice pain anywhere then that may indicate whether or not you should continue.
The most neglected part of any physical activity is the cool down. By slowly cooling the body down, the heart rate is gradually reduced, rather than rapidly which can cause lightheadedness or nausea, it is also a good idea to stretch off your muscles to help reduce stiffness and cramping.
If you don’t know ask
Gyms nowadays are filled with a multitude of equipment some of which can look quite daunting. The internet is full of videos of people using gym equipment or performing exercises in unorthodox ways, which can be quite dangerous. Avoid this issue by simply locating a member of the gym staff and ask them if you have any queries about a particular machine or exercise!
If you are in an exercise class or participating in a new sport and you are not sure what you are doing, ask the person taking the session, that is what they are there for!
Walk before you RUN!
By gradually introducing the body to exercise you allow it to adapt to the demands, reducing the chance of overload or strain. This also allows you to hone your technique or skill to ensure it is properly executed at lighter or lower levels. As you progress both in strength and endurance you can progress your regime accordingly. This particularly applies to lifting weights! Don’t aim to keep up with your friends or other people in the class, set your pace and goals and work to it.
NO! – No pain, No gain
Apparently we have Jane Fonda to blame for this saying. Exercise should challenge you physically and mentally, you should not however experience pain! Muscle soreness often referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is quite common following exercise and usually lasts for 24-48 hours after a physically challenging exercise session. This however is normal and as you train more frequently you will get use to when your DOMS comes and goes and recognise the muscle soreness.
A lot of patients come and see us with similar stories, starting “I felt a sharp pain, but carried on and finished my session, now it really hurts / doesn’t work / I have more pain…”
Listen to your body if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.
This is an area where a lot of people have an opinion, usually not a professional one. The internet is littered with advice from influencers / web articles / blogs and anyone with a social media account. There is always someone who claims to have found “the ultimate diet” which will give you the body of Adonis. The fact is everyone is different. Different physical activities have different demands on the body and we all have different goals that we wish to achieve. Therefore your nutritional plan should be specific to you, your goals and your physical activities. The people qualified to assess you, your needs and help develop this would be licensed dieticians / nutritionists like our very own Holly Angus.
If in doubt check it out
If you have an ache, pain or something which bothers you, which happens with a particular exercise or sporadically during or after physical activity and you’re not sure what it is or why, get it checked out. In some cases it might just be a little muscle ache, pain, tension which can be easily resolved, in other cases it might require some rehab or further investigation. Again this brings us back to exercise should be pain free!
Hopefully the tips above can act as a basis for your new years fitness / health regime and we can look forward to not seeing you in our clinic for anything serious during 2020!
Happy New Year from BounceBack Physio team!