How to avoid injuring yourself in the New Year

We’ve officially entered the new year, and with it comes the time for New Year’s Resolutions.

Often, people tend to want to try new things, experiment and get out of their comfort zone.

When it comes to exercise and getting back into shape after the Christmas holidays, many people are motivated to get stuck into things but with that, there is a gradual increase in visits to a physiotherapist with injuries. The culprit behind these injuries is people not executing the correct warm ups.

However, this by any means shouldn’t deter you from having a fitness resolution, only there are certain aspects of training that you should be aware of prior to jumping into cardio and strength workouts.

The most common injuries that tend to occur in these situations are overuse injuries (eg. tendinopathies, bursitis, shin splints/stress fractures, or impingement), all of which are sustained from repeated action.

As we exercise, we apply stress to various tissues, which adapt by building more tissue to increase strength. This results in larger, stronger and leaner muscles; stronger tendons and increased or maintained bone density. However, if an excessive load is placed repeatedly on any structure, and/or sufficient rest and recovery measures aren’t not taken, the tissue is unable to adapt quickly enough, which can lead to micro injuries, inflammation and pain.

Common causes of overuse injuries and how to avoid them:

Poor technique and malalignment

It is extremely important to ensure the correct technique when performing any exercise at all stages of training. By initiating good posture and joint position to the beginning of each exercise allows your muscles to work in the most efficient way and avoids one muscle being worked more than another – this would create excessive stress on joints and promotes wear and tear, leading to experiencing a lot of pain.

Incorrect use of equipment

If you are new to a gym, or are trying out a piece of gym equipment for the first time, make sure there is a fitness professional to show and instruct you how it should be used. When using the gym equipment incorrectly, you are most likely placing your joints and soft tissues under excessive load, and with repeated incorrect use, injury is likely to occur.

Insufficient strength and endurance

Putting your muscles through a new rigorous training program when they are weak and have poor endurance will lead to them failing. Start at a slow pace and gradually increase the intensity and duration of each exercise to allow your muscles to adapt.

Poor flexibility

When you have poor flexibility, your joints and muscles are unable to move and work through their full range, therefore cannot receive the full benefits of strengthening exercises. This can lead to muscle imbalances, whereby your muscles are strong through their full lengthened range. Remember, stretching is incredibly important during training. The general rule of thumb is to dynamically stretch your muscles prior to exercise and carry out static stretches following your session, making sure to stretch all muscle groups you have used.

Pore core stability

Having poor core stability and undergoing rigorous full body exercise can often lead to an individual experiencing lower back pain. Your deep core muscles are your spine’s support system and need to be engaged in all exercise to avoid excessive movement of your spine. When these muscles are weak and turn off once they become fatigued, other superficial trunk muscles are then enforced to do the supportive job of the core muscles. These muscles are designed to move your spine, therefore, when activated, pull your spine in various directions, causing excessive joint movement rather than keeping the movement to a minimum. This, ultimately, causes pain, which further inhibits the deep core muscles.

Include core-focused exercise as a part of your exercise routine. Pilates are a good option as they can help you become aware of how to re-engage your core muscles with exercise. You can then apply basic Pilates principles to all aspects of your training.

Training errors

One of the biggest training errors is the “too much, too soon” principle.

Your training routine should be gradually worked into, which will give your exercise program longevity and will help you get into the appropriate routine and maintain your motivation to keep you on track throughout the whole year.

Contact our Birmingham Physiotherapists for more advice.