Dr. Michael Li, DACRB
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday! Each January, most of us rush back to the gym determined to burn off some holiday season calories and work toward New Year’s resolutions to get into better shape. Unfortunately, some studies showed more than half of those who join in a gym or fitness club will drop out after 3-6 months. The common reason: injury.
I want to use this article to lay out some strategies that can help you avoid injury and reach your fitness goals any time of year. If you are someone who wants to stay fit for the rest of the year, this article is for you! Here we go.
Overtraining & Injuries
As we are enthusiastically starting our new year training program, sometimes we may do too much, too soon, and those usually lead to early overtraining, and increase one’s risks of injuries. How can you tell if you are over trained? Here are couple things to look for:
- Test your resting heart rate in the morning or before you have breakfast & coffee. Is it higher than usual?
- Did you find yourself still feeling tired after a good night of sleep? This can be an early sign of overtraining.
- Soreness versus pain
- This is one of the most frequently asked questions I encountered and I hope the table below helps differentiate the two:
|Discomfort sensation: the area feels tender to the touch, and you feel a dull, tight achy feeling when you are resting||Discomfort sensation: sharp pain at rest|
|Onset: during exercises or 24-72 hours after exercise||Onset: during exercise or within 24 hours of activities|
|Duration: 1-3 days||Duration: more than a week|
|Location: muscles||Location: muscles or joints|
|Feels better with: stretching, some light movement||Feels better with: ice, rest (or no relief from either of those)|
|Feels worse with: being static||Feels worse with: any activities|
|Appropriate action: continue the exercises once the soreness subsides or to a point you feel comfortable||Appropriate action: consult with a medical professional if pain is sharp and/or lasts more than 1-2 weeks|
What to do?
Gradual increase in exercise intensity/volume.
- I found most folks injured themselves by doing too much, too soon. You may be away from training for a while, and thought you would just pick up where you left off. I would say to start off easily and ramp up gently. Start with one set of exercises for two weeks and see how your body response to it. Sometimes it takes time for your body to adapt to the new exercises routine, and you may not feel the good (and bad) effect from the exercises until 2-4 weeks later. Increase the difficulty of the exercises once you master the form and the movement.
Pay attention to your body
- “Feel” the work you are doing with your body and watch your form. Quality movements always trump high volume and bad forms.
- Good nutrition: make sure you eat and drink well and put good fuel back in your body after exercise.
- Sleep well: your body grows when you are sleeping. Better sleep = better recovery = better growth!
Planning & ideas:
- Some folks train for a marathon, some exercise to prepare for a squash tournament, some just train to be healthier. No matter what your intention is, set a goal. You will commit to your exercises routine when you have a goal. Write it down. Put it at your computer screen or at your fridge. Ask yourself “why” you train/exercise and stick with it!
Make it practical
- This one follows nicely after you set up your goal(s). Make your training practical to what you want to do. If you are training for a hike that you would do during your next vacation, make sure your training helps you directly with your hike. You will be more compliant with the exercises.
- You maybe training for the marathon, but it does not mean your training only involves running. Our body is a great adapter, both to good and bad stress. By doing cross training, you will train the weak stabilizing muscles you may miss during your regular training, and give the muscles a break. If you are a runner, do some weight training to helps support your joints to take on road.
Have some fun!
- Going to the gym can be a drag sometimes, especially during the days of 12+hours of darkness outside. Make it fun for yourself to go into the gym. Mix up the exercise routine after you build a strong foundation. Grab a workout buddy. Have a friendly pickup basketball game. Have fun with the exercises. Being healthy can be fun too!
- Take advantage of the professionals in your circle and in the SAC. If you are dealing with an injury, get it checked out by me or other health care professional during the Wellness Tuesdays. Don’t know where to start on exercising programming, set up an appointment with a personal trainer.
- The personal training staffs and I have worked together on numerous occasions to help a member reaching their fitness goals. When a member is injured and come to me, I always communicate with his/her trainers to create the best exercise plan for that member. Together, we can check your base fitness to support your desired activities level; identify training errors; correct biomechanical problems; provide an appropriate plan to reach your goals.
I hope this article helps giving you a great start to 2015. Don’t hesitate to email the Seattle Athletic Club’s fitness director Jacob Galloway (firstname.lastname@example.org) or me if you have any questions. Have a great 2015!
Dr. Li has been taking care of the SAC staff and members since 2010. You can find him at the lobby performing injury screen for members every 3rd Tuesday of the month. His practice, Mobility Plus Sports Rehab, is conveniently located about 10 minute walk from the SAC. You can find out more about him and his clinic at mobilityplussportsrehab.com. He can be reached by email@example.com.