The days are getting longer and warmer, the gyms are getting busier and Martin Place is seemingly more and more full of runners at lunch time. This time of year is notorious for people injuring themselves in a quick last minute dash to get the perfect summer beach body. People that have had the last 6+months off exercise start enrolling in boot camp and functional fitness programs and for some reason completely forget that they have hardly been walking for the past 6 months, let alone running.
The key concern with these frantic exercise programs is the spike in training intensity and volume from previous low levels of physical activity. So how can you stay away from injury when returning to exercise from an extended period of “rest”? The key is patience, being self aware and not getting caught up in the hysteria of over-training.
- Goal setting.
This is something that if you have been to a Physio, they have probably discussed to no end, be reasonable with your goals. Don’t overestimate your availability, commitment and effort. Start with short term, small goals.
Imagine your busiest week at work, how many times a week would you be able to make it to the gym? Two to three times? Fantastic, that’s your first goal. Make it something that’s achievable even on your worst week. You will likely fail along the way during training programs, it just doesn’t have to be in the first week because your goal was to go to the gym 8 days a week.
- Pace yourself; this goes hand in hand with Goal setting.
Just because in the past you have been able to run 15km 3 times a week, doesn’t mean you are able to do that right now, particularly if you have had the past 6 months off training. Start slow but be consistent. Aim for 3 sub maximal effort training sessions, on non-consecutive days for the first 2 weeks, as time goes on slowly add either additional training sessions, intensity or duration of exercise.
- Rest. Recovery is the most important aspect of your new exercise journey, making sure you are nice to yourself in the short term with have big pay off in the long term. Research shows us that in trained athletes those that have less than 2 rest days per week are 5 times more likely to sustain an overuse injury than those that have more than 2 days of rest per week. Rest is important to allow adequate recovery for muscles, tendons and joints around the body.
Sleep is another facet of rest that is also really important whenever you are exercising, a previous blog goes into the details of how integral sleep is to recovery and injury prevention.
If you are on the same journey as me in the dash for the summer body, remember to ease into exercise, listen to your body, be reasonable with your goal setting and take adequate rest breaks between training sessions. If you are starting a new exercise regime and are concerned with the risk of injury, contact the team at Bend + Mend for advice and support to assist you to make a sustainable health change.