As we get into the swing of the new year, many people will make a resolution to get fit. But if you go about this the wrong way, it can end in an injury that puts you on the sidelines for weeks or even months.
Exercise is amazing for your body and your mind. It boosts mental wellbeing, helps you to manage pain and over the long-term can protect you against injury.
So how can you get back into a fitness regime without hurting yourself? Here are our top tips to minimise your chance of injury.
Start small – even if you used to be a master!
We know from experience that it’s really tempting to go back to doing what you have done in the past. After all, running that fast, lifting those weights or doing Pilates 5 days a week used to be easy!
But whether you’ve been away from exercise because of injury, pregnancy or just that life got on top of you, this is the most common mistake people make.
Over time, your muscles will become less conditioned. If you go back to your old regime, it may be too stressful on your body and lead to an injury.
So don’t just jump in where you were. Instead, go back to the start. Your body will start to remember if you give it time to warm back up to exercise.
Increase your frequency and intensity with time
This goes hand in hand with the first point. It takes time for the body to get back into the swing of things. So give yourself at least a couple of months to get back to where you were before you stopped.
For example, let’s say you used to run 10km 5 times per week. You’ve just had a break for several months due to a new job that took up your time. To get back into it, you might want to pace yourself by doing:
2km gentle jog x 2 for the first week to assess your fitness
5km gentle jog x 2 for 2 weeks
5km run x 3 for 2 weeks
7.5km run x 3 for 2 weeks
7.5km run x 4 for 2 weeks
10km run x 3 for 2 weeks
If you’re feeling good and have had no injuries or flare-ups, then progress back to your 5 x 10km runs.
As you can see, this progression takes 10-12 weeks to get back to your original program. It may take longer if you’ve been off exercise for a longer period of time or had a significant injury. But it will pay off in the long run if you pace yourself!
Make sure you’re getting good nutrition and plenty of sleep
Exercise recovery starts from the moment you stop exercising. There are a lot of factors that contribute to recovery, but nutrition and sleep are two of the most important. Our bodies use nutrients to heal and grow muscles, and most of this healing takes place as we sleep.
For nutrition, our nutritionist buddy Samantha Gemmell recommends eating plenty of wholefoods for a good mix of protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support recovery.
When it comes to sleep, Sam says that quality is just as important as quantity. Make sure that your room is completely dark, avoid caffeine after 3pm and minimise your screen time for 30 minutes before bedtime.
Do some gentle stretches after your workout
Exercise is great for your body, but it can lead to muscle tension. Muscle tension can put you at risk of injury. So how do you minimise that risk? One way is to stretch out after a workout.
This doesn’t have to be anything too extensive. If you’ve gone for a run, do some gentle stretching of your legs and hips. If it’s upper body day at the gym, stretch out your shoulders and upper back. 1-2 minutes of stretching after each workout can add up!
Give your body some TLC
Sometimes stretching isn’t enough, and your muscles need a little extra TLC. Many people will get a relaxation massage or remedial massage, but this only addresses one aspect of the muscle tension.
That’s where myotherapy comes in. Myotherapy incorporates massage with other techniques such as dry cupping, needling, trigger point therapy and taping. This combination can be helpful for not only treating exercise-related injury but also preventing it.
Your myotherapist can also assess your muscles and joints to see if any are at significant risk of injury and prescribe exercises to strengthen those areas.
Want to show your body that TLC and reduce your risk of injury? Book in with one of our friendly myotherapists here.
Looking for an excuse to get a massage? We hear you! Massage can have a variety of benefits, especially when you are treated by a qualified remedial massage therapist. Here are our top 10 reasons you might want to get a massage this week.
You’re stressed out
Let’s face it – most of us live pretty hectic lives. Between family, work, social life, hobbies and more, there isn’t much time for stress-relieving activities.
Putting aside an hour for massage isn’t just about feeling good. Research has found that massage therapy can reduce the level of your stress hormone cortisol, as well as boosting up your feel-good brain chemicals. So it relieves stress physically as well as mentally.
You’ve been hitting the gym lately
Whether you’re doing a 12 week challenge at your gym or getting outside for a bootcamp, increasing your exercise can mean a lot of aches and pains.
Massage is a great option for after a workout to aid with recovery. But you can also book yourself in regularly to address any tightness or discomfort in the muscles that can limit your gym efforts.
You want to be more flexible
Our bodies are designed to be flexible. But our modern world has had a big impact on how flexible the average person is. Between office jobs, Netflix and cars, we spend a lot of time sitting on our muscles instead of stretching them out.
When a massage relieves tension in a ‘tight’ area, it can help your muscles, ligaments and tendons to be more flexible.
You have a new fitness goal or event in mind
Set a goal to run a marathon in 12 weeks? Signed up for Tough Mudder or a Spartan race? Want to be the next Ninja Warrior? Maybe you just want to get back to doing a proper push-up.
Whatever your fitness goal or event, a massage will relieve tension. A remedial massage therapist can also let you know if you have any significant areas of tension or muscle imbalances that may increase your risk of injury.
You’re sore or aching
There are many reasons for feeling sore. But one of the simplest solutions is to get a massage. Massage can soothe away the aches and pains.
If your pain is more chronic, massage can still help to relieve symptoms. In fact, research suggests that multiple massages may be more beneficial for relieving symptoms of pain for issues such as chronic neck pain. Sounds like a good reason to book in a few appointments!
You’ve got a headache
A nasty headache can really screw up your plans and leave you grumpy. So why not get a treatment that can relieve those symptoms?
Research has shown that massage can reduce the duration of a headache, as well as reducing frequency for those who experience chronic tension headaches.
Think it’s more of a migraine? Massage can still help. One study found massage can reduce migraine pain by up to 68%. Just make sure you’re safe to drive, or ask a friend to drive you to your appointment.
You haven’t been sleeping well
If you’re not sleeping soundly, your body and mind can suffer some nasty consequences. Poor sleep can have many factors involved – caffeine, food choices, technology use, lack of sun exposure, stress, family, work, the list goes on.
The good news is that massage can help address many of these factors as well as priming your body for sleep. There is plenty of research showing that massage can help with sleep. It can even help with sleep concerns for specific groups such as people with chronic pain or pain conditions, heart failure or post-menopausal insomnia.
Your mental health has been a little low lately
Whether you’re feeling blue or are getting anxious over little things, mental health is something to take seriously. When you’re not feeling ok, it can be hard to take steps to help yourself feel better. But one simple and enjoyable step is a massage!
A review of 37 massage therapy studies found that the greatest impact of massage is its ability to reduce anxious and depressive symptoms. In fact, they suggested that a course of several massage treatments showed similar benefits to psychotherapy!
It’s been a while since you’ve taken care of you
Most of us are great at taking care of others. But we’re not so good at taking care of ourselves – physically, mentally or emotionally.
Massage is a one-stop shop treatment for all of these aspects of self-care. Your body feels good, your stress levels drop and you are looking after your mental wellbeing.
Because you can
We think this is the best reason of all! If you’re looking for an excuse to get a massage, that in itself is a good enough reason for a massage.
To book a massage with our remedial massage therapist Helvi, head to our booking page and select ‘Helvi Topia’ as your practitioner.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.