How to avoid injury whilst getting fit or increasing your training
28th February 2021
Whether you’ve had to adapt your exercise routine in Lockdown or have taken this time as an opportunity to start or increase your fitness, the last thing you want is an injury! Learn how to train properly and get any aches or pains fixed before they become a problem. Here are some useful tips to ensure you stay injury free when working out.
Avoid doing too much too soon
Regardless of your previous level of fitness, trying to go from lower levels of exercise to hours of training is a recipe for injury.
Have a goal in mind and progress your training to gradually improve from what you can do now to what you would like to achieve. A good amount of exercise to increase by is 10-20% of what you are already doing per week, e.g if you are running 5km 3 times per week (total 15km), running an extra half to one km per training session would be ideal. You can then progress more each week until you reach your goal distance. Take into account your current level of fitness, how much time you have to spend training and your motivation to do it before forming a training plan.
if you dont want to or cant plan your training yourself use an app like couch to 5k or workout for women. Pre set training programmes set over a number of weeks can be an ideal way to get fitter a realistic pace.
Warm up and cool down
An effective warm up and cool down prepares your body for exercise and prevent muscle tightness occuring afterwards. A good warm up lasts between 3-10 minutes depending on your fitness and how long you plan to work out for. Generally if you have a lower level of fitness you will need more time to warm up and you will need a more thorough warm up if you are planning to do a longer session. A good warm up involves gradually increasing the intensity of what you are doing with dynamic movements for the main joints involved in the workout.
A good cool down should last at least 3 minutes, in which you should decrease the intensity of your exercise and stretch out the main muscle groups or body parts you used in your workout (e.g stretch your arms, chest, back, hips and legs).
Vary your training
It is important to vary your weekly exercise routine to prevent injury. i regularly see runners who become injured not because theyre unfit but because all they do is run. Strength and conditioning exercise are important to build core strength and joint stability, making your body more resilient to injury. Balance and Flexibility exercises are important for decreasing stiffness and ensure efficient movement patterns during exercise, as good technique means less injuries.
Yoga and PIlates are ideal for gaining these components of fitness, as are traditional body weight fitness exercise such as press ups, squats, tricep dips, planks and lunges followed by a good stretch out. Aim to include strength, conditioning and flexibility exercises 2-3 times per week for the best results.
Fix underlying issues
Most people have aches, pains or areas of weakness, especially if you exercise on a regular basis and have done so for some time. These issues can hold you back from performing at your best, distracting you during exercise and affecting your technique. Prevention is better than cure. Getting these issues and any new ones that occur fixed sooner rather than later will prevent injury and make for a smoother, easier recovery. This is especially important when looking to increase your fitness training. Physiotherapists are able to continue working during lockdown and many are offering online appointments where we can offer advice and demonstrate effective exercise and self care techniques to help you get better. Seeking advice from a physio or suitably qualified personal trainer before increasing training will help you get fitter not injured.
Bio: Claire Gurney is a Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor from Norwich UK. Claire is “musculoskeletal” and women’s health physiotherapist, helping her clients overcome pains, injuries and issues associated with exercise, lifestyle or pregnancy. She works from two clinics in Norwich and has an online presence teaching Pilates on zoom.
Claire is passionate about injury prevention as well as rehabilitation, she often treats runners and gym enthusiasts with niggly injuries and works with them to address the potential causes of their issues, as opposed to just fixing the pain.
In her own time Claire enjoys yoga, Pilates, long walks and cycling.