Starting a New Exercise? Don’t Miss Mani’s Five Tips for Fitness Success
1: Manage load
Every January, we see people who have injured themselves from overloading their bodies with new exercises or dramatically increased exercise intensity. It may be tempting to throw yourself in the deep end, but there’s no safe short cuts when it comes to exercise.
When starting a new programme, make sure that you increase load very, very gradually, whether it’s the number of kilometres you run or the weight of your dumbbells. A good rule of thumb is to stay below a 10% increase in load per week.
Just as important as how far you push your body is how much you let it rest. Include plenty of complete rest days in your programme, and if your body is still feeling tired after one, give yourself another. You might feel like you’re slowing down progress, but it’s nothing compared to the progress you’ll lose if you injure yourself.
2: Prioritise technique
All exercises are only effective if they’re performed correctly. Learning proper technique for your running, lifting or body weight exercises is the difference between achieving your goals and becoming frustrated or injured, so book some time with a trainer or physiotherapist when you start something new.
Once you’ve learned the correct technique, make sure that you maintain it. The moment you overload yourself, you’ll start to struggle or cheat with your movement, which becomes jerky or unstable.
Forcing yourself through fatigue with poor technique is how even seasoned athletes injure themselves, so only exercise for as long as you can complete the movement comfortably and with the correct form throughout.
3: Pay attention to your pain
It’s normal to feel a bit of pain the day after exercise. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which manifests as a dull ache and slight tightness. DOMS is a normal side effect of exercise, and is a good sign that your muscles are responding to the increased load.
What you shouldn’t feel is a sharp pain or restricted movement after exercise. These are signs that you have overloaded or injured yourself, which will only get worse if you try and power through. Give yourself plenty of time to rest if you feel non-DOMS pain, and see a physiotherapist if it doesn’t resolve after a few days.
You shouldn’t feel pain in your tendons. A bit of tiredness is ok, but anything beyond that needs to be taken seriously and should be diagnosed by a physiotherapist as soon as possible to rule out or intervene against tendinopathy.
4: Avoid programmes that overpromise
Fitness is big business, and there’s no shortage of exercise programmes out there that promise incredible results in very little time. But when it comes to exercise, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
People who maintain their fitness for life approach exercise with patience and a long-term perspective. Some programmes may be able to deliver rapid progress, but speed always comes at the cost of safety. Taking a gung-ho approach nearly always ends in injury, especially if you’re a beginner.
Exercise should be challenging, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling broken afterwards and you shouldn’t be too exhausted to enjoy the rest of your life – both from a safety and sustainability perspective.
A progressive, gradual and safe exercise programme will be better for you in the long term than a punishing, high intensity and high risk one. And no matter what programme you take up, make sure that you combine it with plenty of sleep, hydration and a healthy, balanced diet.
5: Be realistic
You may get the best results if your spend all day in the gym, but unless you’re a professional athlete, chances are you’ve got other things to do with your time.
Whatever exercise you take up this year, make sure it doesn’t significantly impact the rest of your life and that it’s something you can realistically do on a set schedule long-term.
Some people depend on the gym, some people can’t stand it. Some thrive in group settings, some prefer complete privacy. Don’t obsess over the best possible routine; think about what’s most comfortable for you. You can be perfectly fit whether you like to exercise at your gym, at home, in the park or in a class.
Work with your trainer or physiotherapist to design a programme that’s tailored around your life rather than the other way around, otherwise it’ll be far too tempting to skip a session, then two, then ten, then before you know it you’re back to square one.
Come and see us
As Physio London, we can design an exercise programme that’s carefully tailored to your fitness level, schedule, preferences and individual strengths and weaknesses. We can also work with any trainers that you already use to make sure that you’re achieving your goals safely.
If you want to make the most of your body in 2018, get in touch with us now on 02070933499 or firstname.lastname@example.org.