With the hangovers are clearing from a busy festive period, its that time of the year to get stuck right into new year’s resolutions. FANTASTIC! For many, their resolutions are exercise related. Usually, doing more of it! It’s at this time of year we see an influx of injuries related to New Year’s resolutions. Back strains, shoulder rotator cuff issues, irritated knees and so on.
For the most part these injuries are as a result of a sharp increase in intensity or volume of physical activity from previous levels of physical activity. Simply put, it’s as a result of resuming exercise as after a prolonged period away from exercise. In reality, many of these injuries could have been avoided with appropriate planning, and the right tips 😉
So here we go, 6 helpful top tips to minimise your chances of getting injured and allow you to sustain your physical activity throughout the year and beyond!
1) Start off slowly!
Enthusiasm to get moving is great, but try and hold back from diving straight into high intensity workouts if your body isn’t accustomed to them. If you haven’t run, walked, cycled or swam for 30 minutes for 3x per week for the past 2-3 months, going flat out for 45 minutes 5x per week will likely cause problems for your body.
As a great starting point, the World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity (e.g. walking, cycling, swimming), that’s 30 minutes, 5x per week. This is a great place to start!
2) Strength train
This can be as simple as doing body weight exercises (squats, step ups, lunges, side step ups, planks) if you haven’t done strength training in the past. Studies have shown that strength training has been shown to be far superior to stretching-alone in reducing the risk of ‘overuse’ injuries, like tennis elbow and achilles tendinopathy, by 50% and reduces the risk of acute injuries by 30%.
Simply put, the stronger you are, the more your tissues are going to be able to cope with and therefore your threshold before injury occurs is higher.
3) Manage your session loads
If you’ve decided you’re going to do high intensity interval training to start your year, start with 2x per week and try not to train on consecutive days. Stay at this level for the first 2-3 weeks, then increase to 3 on non consecutive days and so on. Research shows that when training load was increased by 15% or more than the previous week, injury risk escalated to between 21 and 49%. That’s huge!
When increasing your training load, which includes the weight you are lifting, the number of reps or sets, it’s recommended you keep it to an increase of 10% OR LESS per week. The other days can be supplemented with submaximal activity like walking, cycling, swimming. The reason being is that it can take 48 hours for your body to recover from a bout of high intensity activity.
Not allowing your body to recover when performing activities for the first time that your body isn’t accustomed to is a recipe for overuse injuries.
4) Don’t let a slack week derail your whole year!
Everyone has an off day or week. Everyone! Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t been as diligent for a couple of days, week or even a few weeks. Each day is a new start, each week is a new start. Exercise is about consistency over weeks, months and years. So missing a day here or there shouldn’t derail your entire plan.
5) Sleep is vital for recovery
In order for your training to hit home, your body needs sleep in order to recover and adapt. 7-9 hours per night is recommended. Studies have shown that those who regularly get less than 8 hours sleep, are 1.7x more likely to be injured compared to those who get 8 or more hours. Check out this article for 10 helpful tips to improve your sleep hygiene here.
6) Factor in rest days
In similar ways that less sleep equates to higher injury rates and poorer physical and mental performance, studies have shown that those people who have less than 2 rest days per week, have a 5x increased risk of overuse injury than those who have 2 or more rest days per week.
Nutrition is also a super important aspect of any exercise regime, however I shall leave that to the nutrition experts!
I would recommend consulting your health care professional prior to starting a rigorous training regime to ensure it is safe and sustainable for YOU.
Feel free to get in contact with us if you have any queries about starting an exercise program, exercise in general or any nagging niggles you’d like to get seen to before starting. We are here to help and can contact one of our friendly team members on 8490 0777.
– Thrive Physio Plus Team