We’re almost one month into spring – not that you can tell here in Auckland – which means that summer is fast approaching! For a lot of us (and the patients we’ve been seeing), this means dusting off that workout gear and getting ready to hit the gym or the road or wherever you like to work out!
Unfortunately, there are always those of us whose bodies don’t initially respond too well to going from bear-like hibernation to regular, and at times challenging (pump class, anyone?), exercise. So we’ve put together some tips to help you get back into exercise safely and effectively and minimise the risk of getting injured in the process!
- Start off slow
We know the temptation to go all out on your first day back at the gym until you feel it whenever you sit down the next day – we’ve been there! The very real risk is that if you push yourself too hard initially, then your muscles, tendons and joints which aren’t used to such a load over the winter months have a real risk of being strained and damage – which can see you delaying your exercise for at least a few weeks while you recover! Instead, try starting off with a distance you can manage without too much strain as a baseline and then gradually increase that. Your body will also feel much better the next day!
- Check your shoes
We know, sounds cliché right? But there’s a reason for that. Your shoes hold and support your feet (and hence legs and upper body) with every step you take. This means they can either help stabilise and control your movements, or allow your foot to roll unsteadily from side to side, placing excess strain on various muscles and bones and see you tire much faster from all this extra energy you’ve used up trying to support and stabilise your feet. If you’ve had your regular joggers for over a year, just take the time to feel around the heel counter and make sure it’s not to flexible, check the shank through the middle of the shoe so that it’s still quite firm and not too flexible and check the wear pattern on the bottom of the shoe to make sure you haven’t massively worn the shoes down on one side and they’re now going to be tipping you out of balance.
- Be mindful of previous injuries
If you’ve injured your feet or legs previously, there’s a chance that area will be a bit weaker, even if it’s all healed up. This makes the area vulnerable to re-injury. Focus on doing exercises that help strengthen that area as part of your daily routine or warm up. For example, if you’ve previously had a knee injury (like your patellar tendon or your ACL ligament), then include exercises that will strengthen the musculature that surround, support and stabilise the knee.
- Warm up and cool down!
Jumping straight into an exercise session without warming up your muscles and expecting them to be as flexible as ever is one of the quickest ways to get injured. Take the time to have a good stretch and warm up for a couple of minutes before you start. After you finish, equally take the time to cool down and give those hardworking muscles a good final stretch. It can save you “feeling the burn” and the soreness the next day and decreases your recovery time.
- Variety is the spice of life
We’re not sure about the spice of life, but having variety in your activities and exercises is a great way to work many muscle groups that may be neglected if you stick to just a few activities. Because muscles support one another so much, having good general strength will overall reduce your likelihood of injury and improve your overall function and mobility.
So GOOD LUCK to those that are back on the exercise bandwagon! If you have any concerns, need advice or develop any niggles or injuries, come in and see our expert team here at Perform Podiatry. Sports injuries and biomechanics is one of our specialities and we love seeing people back on track and achieving their goals!
Give us a call today on 09 523 2333