By Dennis Petermann, Physical Therapist Assistant
It is that time of the year when the holidays are upon us. We not only spend a lot of time with friends and loved ones, but also a lot of time sitting around a table filled with delicious foods! By the time the season has passed, we are left with a full heart and a full stomach. This often leads most of us to begin that New Years resolution we make of getting ourselves into stronger and healthier shape. But as Physical Therapists and Physical Therapists Assistants, it is during this time that we are often confronted with people who are injured as a result of starting an exercise regimen improperly and uneducated. Either through working with too much weight, or performing an exercise that might be too advanced for them, people often don’t take the necessary Steps of Prevention in order to decrease and eliminate possible injury. With a few easy key points to remember, here are some general steps in order to keep you from strains and pains.
Start slowly. The first rule of leading an active life is to get active! But some experts point out that the highest incidence of injury occurs in the first six to eight weeks of starting an activity or when taking it up again after a period of rest or injury. So begin easily; build up gradually. Increase duration, intensity or resistance by no more than 5% per workout. Prevent injuries by careful and faithful preparation through adequate warm up, warm down, stretching and massage. Listen to your body and slow down when the things begin to get intense with your workout.
Pay attention to those twinges. Overuse injuries are often work or sport specific, resulting from repeated stress to a specific area over time. We tend to ignore such problems until they become serious. When left unaddressed, healing of overuse injuries can take months or longer. Listening to these signal from your body will enable you to gauge the amount of effort needed in both training and recovery. Learn to speak the body’s language, and it will become a partner in the training process.
Know when to back off. In either competition or recovery, the secret in translating the language of the body is knowing when to back off and when to endure. Just as the runner who pushes too hard in the early stages of a race will fade before the finish line, the athlete who trains too hard, too often and without concern for adequate recovery will fade or burn out on a regular basis. Your body will warn you before an overuse injury occurs. Listen closely and respond immediate and intelligently.
Give yourself time to recover. When an injury occurs, listen to the demands in terms of healing and recovery. Whether you have recovered from the injury or not, your body will tell you. Rush the process, and you may well double your downtime. Though they may “go away” on their own, but your body never forgets, and you may see those little problems return, maybe bigger and more serious than before. Contact your current physician or physical therapist if you have any immediate concerns or questions.
Photo Credit: Flickr/MiamiFitnessTV