Last year around this time of the year, I posted a blog about New Year’s resolutions. I was curious to know why people are so good about making these goals of becoming healthier, but then quickly return to their old patterns and abandon the new routine.
As a physical therapist, I am always fearful that injuries could be a significant factor in limiting people from achieving their goals. In order to help out, I thought this year I would provide some guidelines to help prevent injury as you go out and start some new exercise programs.
- Start Slowly: A common misconception is the No Pain, No Gain route when it comes to your workouts. Some soreness when first working out or trying something new is likely to happen, but if it lasts more than a of couple of days, then you probably did too much. If you were doing more weight lifting, lower the weights or number of repetitions for a couple of weeks to allow some accommodation. Cardio workouts can be tapered by slowing the pace or doing a switch between walking and running to help build up the tolerance to the treadmill.
- Warm Up Properly: Spending a few minutes on the bike or elliptical at a slow pace before starting your workout also makes the muscles more adaptable when you start your full workout routine. Try to do some stretching also. Hold the stretches for at least 30 sec and repeat 2-3 times on each side while hitting the major muscle groups.
- Use Proper Form: This is likely to be the biggest problem for someone who is adding something new to their workout routine. Take advantage of the staff at the gym for proper instruction in use of the machines and equipment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It will be much more embarrassing if they have to pull you out of the machine if you get stuck in it.
- Add Variety: Not only with this help keep your workout routine fresh so it’s not boring, it will also work muscle groups differently so you don’t have break down with overuse and repetition. For instance, try a yoga class for some flexibility and balance training in place of another day of heavy weights. Or try doing a Spin class for the cardio instead of pounding away on the treadmill again.
- Cool Down: Finish your workout with an easy 5-10 minute cool down workout with a slow walk on the treadmill or light pedal on the bike. Some final stretching of the muscle groups that you worked hard with the workout may help prevent some of the post workout soreness as well.
I hope these tips keep everyone pushing ahead towards their goals. Please contact our clinic for a free injury evaluation if you are experiencing pain that you don’t think is normal. We want to be there for you to have a healthy 2014.