Are you one of the many people who made a New Year’s resolution? Did that resolution involve a healthier lifestyle? Have you been feeling some new aches and pains after committing to your new fitness routine?
I see an uptick in clients complaining of exercise-related issues around the middle to end of January and again in the spring. Many of these people quickly went from not getting any exercise at all to an intense fitness regimen. That quick ramp-up in activity led to pulled muscles and aching joints. And those injuries often discourage people from sticking to their exercise goals.
Here are some tips for staying injury-free as you begin an exercise program.
- Set realistic goals
- Listen to your body
- Stay hydrated
- Schedule regular therapeutic massages
You know the saying “You have to crawl before you can walk”? You can’t expect to complete a 60-mile bike ride if it’s been 10 years since you took a spin around the block. Evaluate your current fitness level and set a realistic short-term goal – maybe it’s 15 minutes on the treadmill three times a week – as well as a long-term goal. When you meet your goal, set a new one. Keep setting new goals until you’ve reached your long-term stretch goal – perhaps running a 5k. This helps your body ease into a new routine, and it keeps you from getting discouraged and giving up when you can’t quickly meet your stretch goal.
Your body will tell you when it’s time to take a break or when one area needs a little TLC. Don’t ignore the stiffness in your shoulder. Think about what you’ve been doing lately that could have caused the pain and adjust your behavior accordingly. If the pain persists, see a massage therapist, chiropractor or other professional.
You should already be stretching daily to keep your fascia smooth and supple. That goes a long way toward preventing injury. A little light stretching before exercising wakes up your joints and muscles. A good stretch as part of your cool-down routine takes advantage of warm muscles to increase flexibility and, according to some studies, speeds recovery.
We all know how important it is to drink water. The general rule is that we need to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day. You’ll need more if you’re exercising – you need to replace the water you’re sweating out. Water has many health benefits, but did you know staying hydrated can prevent common exercise injuries? Proper hydration keeps your fascia supple, which helps your joints, muscles and tendons move smoothly.
Getting regular massages helps to works the kinks out of your fascia and muscles that you can’t get out by yourself. A good massage therapist can not only ease the pain from your new active lifestyle but can also give you tips on avoiding future injury and self-care suggestions specific to your needs.
If you’re already experiencing pain from your 2018 resolutions, don’t give up. Schedule an appointment with me so you can get back to your new routine.