Well it’s just about January, the time of year when people reflect on the changes they want to make for the year ahead. For many, these changes include either improving their fitness level and/or losing weight. Unfortunately, only a couple weeks into the year I start to see many of these individuals file into the clinic, their well-intentioned resolutions devastated by an injury. So today, I would like to share some tips to help prevent this from happening to you!
When it comes to exercise we tend to gravitate towards the extremes, especially around January when everyone jumps on board for a “fitness challenge” to help them stay motivated. The trouble is that quite often people are starting from a relatively low activity level or sedentary type lifestyle. Our bodies are capable of adapting to the stresses we put them through however this process requires time and adequate rest. In the long term we are much more likely to achieve our goals by introducing a realistic increase in our activity (eg., 2-3 days/week) ratherthan burning ourselves out or ending up injured from trying to workout for 30 days straight.
I am constantly reminding my clients that you can perform what looks on paper to be the perfect program but if you are not using proper form/techniques then you can still end up with an injury. When lifting weights make sure to keep your chin gently tucked and your head in line with the rest of your body (don’t crane your neck to watch the mirror!), your shoulder blades pulled back to open your chest, and your core engaged to keep your back neutral. Having a friend film you perform some of your exercises and watching it back can be very helpful for understanding where your form may need some improvements. When it comes to doing cardio stop before you are fatigued and become careless with your form.
Two of the biggest myths around seeing a physiotherapist are that you #1 need to be injured and #2 need a doctors referral. You definitely don’t need to be injured/in pain to benefit from seeing a physiotherapist and you do not require a referral (although some insurance plans may require one in order to cover the cost). A physiotherapist can make recommendations on the type and amount of exercise you should do to achieve your goals as well as assess and address any factors that may predispose you to injury (including posture, exercise technique, muscles imbalances etc…).
In summary, start slow, focus on the quality of your movements, and seek help if needed! Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2019!
Mandi Lamanes, MPT, BKIN