Common injuries we are faced with in January and 7 steps to avoid them!
It’s January. Holidays are behind us and we are all setting new goals. If you are anything like us, you’ll surely have a big list of fitness goals for 2018 and you are super excited to get started.
You may have already laid out a precise plan, your week is packed, and you may even be thinking, can I squeeze any double sessions in?!
Unfortunately plans have a tendency of working well on paper and not quite the same in real life. Especially if you have taken a few weeks break: our bodies need time to adapt. You can’t cheat your physiology.
At this time of the year we often see patients who start to develop common overuse injuries, such as shin splints, runner’s knee, ITB syndrome, shoulder and lower back pain. Or in some cases, they may get burned out quickly and end up losing interest in training.
The problem is usually that training outweighs the body load capacity. Tendons are particularly sensitive to any spike in training, becoming swollen, sensitive and painful even after just a few sessions if you suddenly increase your training intensity or volume.
So, what’s the secret to getting back into training and not getting injured?
- Your first step is to reflect on why you took the break in the first place. And be honest with yourself! Was it just time-constraints as you caught up with family and friends for the holidays? Where you just feeling knackered and needed mental and physical rest? Did you start having a niggle or you got injured?If you took time off because of an injury, you want to make sure to get that fully assessed by a physiotherapist; even if your symptoms have subsided, injuries rarely recover by just taking rest and it’s important for you to understand why the issue occurred in the first place to get the underlying cause under control and not having to worry about relapses.
If you were getting too fatigued, have you had a reality check? Do you sleep enough? Do you eat enough to support your activities? Are you getting too stressed? You may just have had a new baby, work may be driving you crazy, or you are in between a house move? It is important to understand where your fatigue came from and to minimise any unnecessary stress to make sure you fully recover between workouts and you don’t feel guilty for being in the gym instead of doing something else.
- Once you are clear where you are starting from, you can draw a realistic plan. Remember that you can’t start exactly where you left your training. Give yourself 4-6 weeks to rebuild to previous fitness levels. Slow and steady wins in the long run. Be more conservative than you think you’ll need on how much, how intense and how often you can train. Start slowly and build up gradually week by week (eg. 5-10%).
- Plan your recovery! Many people are so focused on training and forget that the body makes its gains during recovery. Plan both short term recovery, stretching and foam rolling after training, and medium-term recovery: de-load weeks every 4-6 weeks and regular massage sessions.
- Plan your strength training and make sure it features in your training plan. You need to get strong so that your body can cope with running, HIIT classes etc. not the other way around! Many patients we see think that running or classes will get them back into lifting weights. This is a common myth; most overuse injuries have weakness and imbalance as root cause. A carefully balanced corrective exercises and strength program should be your priority to build a strong base on which you can then add your activity of choice.
- Stay hydrated and well fuelled. No need for explanations here. Don’t try crazy diets, fuel your body as it needs good nutrition for good performance and recovery, to remain injury free.
- Listen to your body. Be flexible with your plan, if you feel niggly there is no reason to push through. Your body is asking you for a break. Move things around to accommodate how you feel on a specific day. Don’t make silly excuses, but listen to the real signs that you may need a break.
- Manage your expectations and be patient! We all want to return to our peak form and reach our goals as fast as we can. There is no rush. Train to be healthy in the long run and your body will reward you with better performance and aesthetic progress.
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And stay tuned, we’ll analyse the most common knee and back injuries and how to get rid of them in the next few weeks!