“My shoulders hurt, my knees hurt, and I think I twinged my back. I’ll just take today off, tomorrow off… oh well, no point now, I’ll leave it ‘til next year.”
Sound familiar? A few short days ago you made a resolution to get active. Maybe you gained weight, maybe you’ve been tired and everything’s an effort, or maybe you just want to improve your overall health and fitness. Perhaps you’re planning to finally run that marathon, or enter the Tough Mudder. Last year you tried it, and the year before that; you pulled on your Lycra and smashed out one solid week worth of exercise.
You’re inspired, you’re excited and you’re making plans! Great! The only problem is that this will go the same way as it did last year:
Week 1 – Go to the gym every day
Week 2 – Feel really sore and overwhelmed, but still go to the gym every second day because you’re inspired
Week 3 – Don’t go to the gym because everything hurts
The knee that sometimes bothers you is hurting all the time. Your back is aching at work and distracting you. Your shoulder twinges when you lift your arm above your head. You feel like you’ve failed, and you think “maybe I just can’t do this”. Maybe I’m too old. Maybe I’ve ignored my body for too long. Maybe not.
Two keys to success:
- It’s all about planning and preparation. While it’s great to surf the wave of your enthusiasm, you need to do it in a way that sustains your plan rather than sabotages it. If you’ve been away from exercise for a long time, your body is going to need time to recover between sessions. That means no more than 3 times per week to begin with. Yes, you can stay active with some walking on your rest days, but be realistic: If you haven’t walked further than the car in a long time, then even a stroll takes a toll. That means having recovery days from your walks, too.
- Next, consider your intensity. Every January and February, therapists all over Australia are treating people like you for conditions such as calf strains, patellofemoral syndrome (grinding, painful knees that are worst when carrying out intense activity) and plantar fasciitis (usually tearing or burning pain on the soles of the feet). Boot camps are wonderfully motivating, but can sometimes encourage participants to stay quiet when they’re in pain or when they’re struggling. Contrary to popular belief, fitness shouldn’t hurt. Yes, it should be hard, but if you’re in pain then there’s a problem! If you haven’t exercised consistently for more than a year, then you need to slowly increase your body’s resilience and capacity over time. Even your sporting heroes have a gradual increase in training load after their off-season break.
So what activities will work for you?
Great options to start include increasing your steps to 10,000 everyday; starting a gentle yoga class (no, not power yoga…not to start with) or cycling no more than 30km a couple of times a week. Gradually increase your capacity over 1-2 months in these gentle activities and then increase the load and intensity just a little. If you’re injury free by March, then it might be time to push a little more. Step-by-step goals are what will keep you pain free, injury free and guilt free, because you’ll still be working towards your goal rather than sitting on the bench.
If you think you have a specific injury that you’re worried about and that you think might flare up with your new exercise plan, you can also book in to the Wellnation clinic for a Musculoskeletal Therapy (MST) assessment. Preparation is the key! The students in the MST clinic are trained to assess the health of your muscular, nervous and skeletal system and give you suggestions that will help you to stay healthy. The MST students will help you to understand what weak or tight areas might be slowing you down and which joints might not be moving quite the way they should. They will show you some helpful stretches and exercises that will help you to improve in your activity, or just to prevent you from getting too sore. Once you’re started, they’ll help to keep you on the road to health by treating niggles as they happen.
Resolutions are far more likely to stick when you have help, reducing all the little aches and pains that get in the way of achieving your goal. Maintaining your fitness resolution can be trouble-free when you break it down, build it up and have a breather. Break down your goals, then build up your strength and capacity. And importantly, give your body a breather by including time to recover.
Does this article sound like you? Why not give yourself the best chance of success? Fresh Start 2016 gives you 8 weeks of unlimited* access to natural health treatments (including Musculoskeletal Therapy and remedial massage*) as well as other exclusive benefits. All for only $129! Ready to start fresh in 2016? Click here to learn more.This article provides general information and is not intended to constitute advice. All care is taken to ensure information is accurate and relevant. Please see your Practitioner for health treatments and advice.