Aug 2016 27

6 tips for restarting exercise

By: Dave Wheeler

As summer ends and it starts to get a bit cooler, it's a good time to start up your exercise routine again.

It's also the time when a lot of injuries occur - mainly because we just go for it after some time  off. So here are some top tips to make sure that you're able to exercise well and to keep up your routine injury-free:


1. Check you gear

Whatever sport or exercise you're into you'll have some gear, whether it's a bike or just a pair of shoes - make sure they're in good nick.

  • If you're a cyclist and haven't had your bike fitted for a while, then do it now before you build up mileage. We all change weight and shape (as well as our riding technique) so it's worth getting a re-fiit.  Make sure you're cleats are fitted properly too,  if you use them
  • If you're a runner, check  your shoes. I recently pulled mine out of the cupboard after a few years of idleness and ran on them, only to end up with a plantar fascia injury (after 14 weeks I'm still not running). So listen to someone who's made the mistake for you. If you've run 500 miles on them, it's probably time for a change. There's a great guest article by running fitness journalist Matt Phillips on how to choose running shoes.
  • If you play a team sport or court game, still check your shoes for wear & tear, and replace them if you're in doubt.


2. Warm up

Going to the max on "cold" muscles means that you're more likely to get a muscle strain, so make sure you warm up.

There's no need to tear the arse: 3-5 mins of warm up is enough. Start gently and get  progressively more active.

For most sports the best warm  up for your exercise is the sport itself:

  • If you're a gym-rat then do your exercise with no weight (just the bar) for a few reps.
  • If you're a swimmer, a cyclist or a runner then swim, cycle or run gently for a few mins.
  • You need to do a bit more  if you're a team-sports player or racquet-sports player - the ideal is a bit of a jog, some dynamic stretching, then a couple of mins gently playing.


3. Build up your routine

If you've taken a good few weeks (or months. Or years) off exercise, don't just jump in at the level you were before. You've gotten older and less fit! Build up sensibly.

If you're in your 20's ignore this one: you're invulnerable.


4. Keep good form

Whether it's bicep curls, running gait, swimming stroke or riding position, form is everything.

If you concentrate on keeping good form & the right position then you'll be building the muscles correctly and using them as they're meant to be used. With rubbish form, you'll be recruiting other muscles to help out (muscles that weren't designed to do the job), and you'll be more prone to injury.

It's harder than you might think to keep form - slow the pace, drop the weight and concentrate on the position of your body. Only when you're sure that you're doing it as well as you can then up the ante.


5. Stretch afterwards

This is probably the most important bit of advice. It's the thing that has the most impact on your ability to stay injury-free.

You  don't need to stretch everthing: just stretch what you know will hurt the next day. There's loads  of advice on stretching in this previous blog.


6. Sort out niggles fast

If you've got a niggle, stop.


If it hasn't gone away get help.

Niggles can quickly become problems if you keep exercising on them.  One of my clients found this out to his cost recently: he's a boxer and after a session of thowing punches had  a niggle in his elbow. Despite thinking, "that's not right," he boxed again a few days later. And a few days after that.  Of course he made the injury worse, and had to take a couple of months off.

If you think it's a muscle problem,  then a remedial sports massage therapist can help; if it's a joint issue then a physio will sort it; if  it's in your spine then a good osteopath can help.

As ever, if you think I can help, give  me a call.