My first official post since beginning this blog 😀 And now, onto the topic…
So you’ve made a resolution, right? You’ve made a commitment to getting fit. Be it three days a week or daily, you’re determined to see it through. Or…maybe you’re wavering, undecided about exercise. You aren’t sure that you can do it. (To which I will say, yes you can! Virtually everyone can walk and if not walk, there are stationary recumbent bikes.) You are worried that you will hurt yourself if you try something different or new.
Bravo for stepping out of the box! For even considering it! Being open to new experiences is how we grow as individuals. Go ahead, try it, keeping in mind these tips to prevent injury.
(Before beginning any exercise regimen–particularly if you have been sedentary or are deconditioned–get a physical done and talk with your doctor! Seek his/her recommendations for beginning a regimen before hitting the pavement, gym…whatever. The best prevention is informed decisions.)
1. If you are new to, or beginning (again, you say), to exercise, start slowly. Do not overdo it. Meaning: set a short-term goal to work out, say, 5 days a week. Do not start at 5 days a week when beginning. You are likely to be very sore by the end of it, a deterrent for exercise adherence–the main goal! Perhaps start at 3 days a week and work your way up.
Say you’re an experienced gym-goer who wants to mix things up. The same rule applies. By all means mix it up, but take things slowly. Start with fewer weight reps, or add 1-2 new classes at a time (depending on your tolerance for delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) and fitness level). Keep your short-term goals attainable, so that you can reach your long-term goals successfully.
2. Regardless of where you are in your fitness lifestyle, when you begin something new, let someone know about it. Talk with a trainer and get tips on how to do the exercises correctly; schedule time with a personal trainer if necessary until you safely know what you’re doing. Let the group fitness instructor of that class you’ve been dying to take know that it’s your first time. They should be able to tell you what you need to do to modify and/or call out modifications throughout the class. (If s/he does not cater to your beginner needs, find a different class!) And always inform your trainer or instructor of any medical conditions, pregnancies, surgeries, doctor’s recommendations, etc., before beginning. The last thing any of us wants if for you to collapse!
3. Be mindful of how the exercises feel. This does not mean freak out when you feel discomfort. Your nervous system has to adjust to the new demands you place upon it. Rather, sharp or very intense pain should be noted. The exercise should be stopped immediately, and you should ask your teacher/trainer (then, if possible) about it and whether or not there are modifications for that exercise.
4. Take breaks. Take vacations. Give your body time to recuperate after consistent bouts of exercise. I, myself, take weekends off. There are some who will workout until they reach a goal and then take a well-deserved vacation. The point is to listen to your body. When you’re physically tired, it becomes harder to prevent injury.
But, sometimes, we do end up getting hurt. We do something stupid (hopefully, that is a rare event but living in and amongst Marines has taught me never to assume anything) or a move we did in a yoga class pushed our bodies just a bit too far. You felt that shocking, sharp twinge in a joint, an intense pulling in your low back, or a snap-crackle-pop in a place you’re pretty sure wasn’t supposed to sound like that. Now what?
1. Call your doctor’s office. Tell them what happened. See if they recommend that you come in. For some injuries, the sooner the better.
2. For a sprain or strain (or any other injury until you can get into the doctor’s), R.I.C.E. (rest, ice the injury, compression of the injured area, elevation of the injured area)!
3. Think about what caused the injury. Make sure that, when healed and capable of resuming your regimen, that you discuss how to prevent the same or similar injuries from happening in the future with a trainer/instructor.
4. Don’t give up! Just because you got injured does not mean that you cannot exercise again. It might be a bit scary to get back in the saddle, but do! The benefits of exercise far outweigh the cons.
Now get out and get moving! You’ve got a wonderful life to live, made better by the effects of exercise. Be mindful as you work. Sweat a lot and smile more. You’re doing yourself a whole lot of good!