Who would think that there is a dark side to exercising? With the New Year, many of you may have started a new routine thinking that you can do no harm in the gym. You buy your new gym shoes and gym bags ready to get fit. You try to imitate your favorite Instagram fitness guru, flipping tires and start off lifting way too much weight all while repeating the mantra “ No pain, no gain”. That saying is for the most part a lie, especially when talking about physical pain. The last thing I want is for anyone to have their good intentions ruined because of injury. Here are a couple of tips to avoid having your routine cut short:
1. Start slow
With your workout routine you want to think long term and avoid the temptation of focusing on quick gains in a short period of time. This is beneficial for two reasons: 1. avoiding injury, which depending on the severity, can knock you out of the game for a few weeks or impact your physical ability for years going forward. 2. It is very hard to stay motivated to get to the gym if you decide to go hard every time you get there starting out. Don’t try to compare yourself to others, and start off slow with fewer repetitions and less time in the gym. If you started out fairly inactive before starting your new routine, simply walking a few times a day is a great start!
2. Pay attention to body movements
Here at Stout Chiropractic, we advise our patients to begin “listening” and paying attention to the movement of their bodies more. This is especially important to do in the gym as you are training. Especially when starting off, look in a mirror to make sure you are using good body mechanics or take note of them on a pad of paper and bring it to the attention of your Chiropractor, therapist or personal trainer for guidance. Some common movement pattern mistakes can be listed in a future blog, but the right movement pattern for you could be uniquely yours and should be evaluated by a professional.
3. Take breaks
No matter where you are with your workouts, it is always a good idea to give your body some time to rest and recover from a workout session. Working out every day may seem to be the path to six pack abs but is actually more likely to be cut short by injury or pain that will make it very hard or impossible to continue on that path. It is very important to try to move every day. Higher intensity workouts or weight lifting however, should be limited to two to three times a week for moderate level lifters and even less for novice lifters.
4. Avoid running on hard surfaces
This is better for everyone, but especially if you are just beginning a workout routine, run on grass or other soft surfaces. Running on hard surfaces cause abnormal stresses on your lower extremity joints, especially your knees and hip sockets. This can cause issues over time with excessive jogging or for the more mature runner. Our body has adapted (or evolved) to run on uneven terrain that is relatively soft most of the time if you think back to where our ancestors would be running. They more than likely weren’t found running on paved paths or streets
5. Have fun
Fun is subjective. Exercise and activity is not a “one size fits all” and if you try to force yourself to do something you do not enjoy then you will fall off of the wagon quickly. If you are at the point that no kind of activity other than sitting and watching TV is enjoyable, then you need to at the very least force yourself to begin walking. Our body is made to move innately so you will find yourself feeling unexpectedly good after a walk. Your body craves movement and that will become clearer in your mind once you start doing it and showing yourself what you’ve been missing.
This is an exciting part of the year. Many people have all of their goals listed out and look forward to transforming physically, mentally and spiritually into a new person by the end of the year. Unfortunately not everyone makes it to the end of their goals and even more unfortunately when it comes to physical goals, those aren’t being met due to injuries. I have listed out a couple of simple tips that you can take now, to ensure that you are able to work toward these goals all year long. Remember, this New Year is about growth, not reaching your end goal right away. Going to the gym later today or tomorrow may not get you those six pack abs right away, but every day that you commit to your goals, gets you that much closer to where you want and need to be. As said above, if you have any questions on form or anything health related, we are here and happy to help in any way we can.
Dr. J Rahman