Get into shape and avoid injury!

For many of us the winter indulgence left its mark and we are desperately looking for quick ways to get back into shape! As Osteopaths this is the time when we see the negative side effects of exercise when people take on too much, too early…

It is human nature that once we decide that it is time for change, we want it to happen overnight! In this article I hope to give you some advice on how to set more long term goals, ease your way in and lessen injuries and pain.

Exercise has many proven health benefits, but it can also exploit your lack of joint range of motion and muscular flexibility, resulting in injury. The opposite is also true. If you have excessive joint mobility and muscle flexibility (hypermobility), due to whiplash injuries, previous pregnancies, ballet/dancing, genetic predisposition to ligament laxity, injury can result in the same way.

Osteopaths regularly see shin, knee, hip, neck and lower back complaints because patients are undertaking an exercise regime that is beyond what their body can handle.

Wanting to lose weight? Do it slowly!

  • Look at a lifestyle change and not a quick fix diet.
  • Begin with a low-grade exercise such as walking or water aerobics regularly for 30-60 min.
  • Reducing alcohol and eat smaller meals.
  • Always stretch after exercise.

As your weight reduces, your flexibility improves and your energy levels increase, you can consider raising the intensity, but remember,it should be a long term strategy and needs to be sustainable for you and your body. Keep in mind that the more you enjoy exercising, the easier it becomes and the less reliant you will be on the ‘fridge and pantry’ to deal with your stress!

If you are training for a more intensive event and your focus is onmuscle strengthening and improving your existing fitness:

  • Start slowly at first.
  • Get the correct advice or program from your personal trainer, or if you had previous injuries, advice from your health care practitioner.
  • Always combine your fitness program with a stability exercise, (Pilates), or flexibility exercise, (stretching or Yoga) (* Read more below on the difference between Pilates and Yoga).
  • Ensure you have the correct footwear.
  • Always stretch after exercise.

Train your body as a whole by starting from the inside out. For instance, start with spinal mobility or stability, your core (the muscles you can’t see and that are attached to the spine), then the bigger muscles groups you can see. Don’t forget nutritional support and supplements.

*Pilates vs Yoga:
The combination of both is ideal. Broadly, Pilates focuses more on stability and Yoga on mobility. If you have suffered a previous spinal injury or had surgery of any kind, my suggestion is to start with a type of Pilates that would suit you. There are many different styles and types of Pilates. Find out what is more suitable for your body. Following an initial 3 to 6 months of Pilates, you can explore the different types of Yoga. This allows the body to have the best chance of undertaking endurance training and muscle strengthening when preparing for your big event or simply improve your fitness.

Whatever your goals  this summer, remember to also have lots of fun,
and if you are in the sun don’t forget your sunblock!

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