How many New Year’s resolutions of getting fitter and healthier have already fallen by the wayside? Not necessarily because of willpower – but because of injury?
At a time when gym memberships explode – it is estimated that 70% of the people who join don’t go after 1 month. What’s the reason? 0 – 100mph in one go. All the bad habits stop, and activity goes into overdrive. It’s too much too soon, and often we pay the price with injuries.
MORE HASTE, LESS SPEED
What’s the cheapest and easiest way to avoid such pitfalls? Slow down. Don’t set such high goals and then be disappointed when the body gives out. Do less volume, less intensity, less time and focus on easing into a new habit slowly, carefully, mindfully. It’s not a good idea to attempt a 10K/fitness boot camp/advanced yoga class etc. if you haven’t set a plan to ease into it gradually. Be the tortoise – it’s not about the finish line – but how you get there that counts! (if your intention is to move better, be fitter and healthier for the long term – instead of the next few weeks that is).
SLOW IS SMOOTH, SMOOTH IS FAST
We tend to rush movements that we find difficult or feel uncomfortable with. That last rep for example! Just because you can do something fast does not mean you can do it slowly. But if you can do it slowly – chances are strong that you can perform the same movement quickly. Why do it slow? Fast movements are the ones which challenge the strength (or structural integrity) of the body i.e. if you are not moving well and you test the capacity of the body with a load which exceeds its strength = injury. Slow movements are safer – and require more effort to perform – so you benefit from becoming stronger and more flexible without the risk of injury!
REST, REPAIR AND RECOVER
You don’t get fitter and stronger during exercise. Your body adapts to the training when you are resting and regenerating. Allow time for the body to heal between sessions. More is not better, better is better. If you keep pushing the body beyond its ability to adapt and recover – you risk overtraining and injury. Which sets back progress, you get discouraged and quit.
HEED THE WARNING SIGNS
Pain is an alarm signal – it is alerting you that there needs to be a change in how you are managing your body (see my previous article on pain for more info on this). The ‘niggles’ and aches are ignored at your risk. Ignoring them is like taking out the bulb for the warning lights in the car, which will work fine – problem solved – until the car breaks down.
There is a reason muscles and joints ache – usually it’s not due to a deficiency in painkillers and antinflammatories. They are the letting you know that whatever you doing with your body is not currently working very well. When we have a problem with our teeth we see the dentist, when there is a problem with our car we see the mechanic. When we have our problem with our muscles, joints, bones etc. we take a pill, slap on some cream, have a rest and hope it will pass.
This is where seeing an osteopath can work well – we are the body mechanics! We will assess and treat the reason why there are aches and pains – addressing the root cause of the problem by treating the whole body. We will ensure that you are moving better through gentle hands-on treatment and help you reduce the risk of injuring (or re-injuring!) that problem area, by giving you simple strategies to help manage the situation. A physical health MOT if you like – to check how well your body is moving – and whether there are areas which need a bit of work to avoid problems further down the line, or to help you get on top of a current issue.