Safety tips for starting an exercise program

Warning! Approach your New Years fitness resolution with care…

Written by Dr. David Howard – B.Sc. (Clinical Sci.), M.H.Sc. (Osteopathy), B.App.Sc (Human Movement) from Pascoe Vale Osteopathy located in Pascoe Vale, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

With the turning over of a new year, you may have decided to lose some kilos and get fit. So you join the gym, take on a personal trainer or start jogging. In the first week all goes well, you get up early, sweat, run, jump and lift. Just as you start to think that this year will finally be the year that you stick to your resolution, it all goes pear-shaped and your body lets you down. Any number of things could happen… your knees start to hurt, your achilles tendon is sore, the soft tissues on the sole of your feet start to burn or you throw your back ‘out’. This results in you stopping the exercise and all of that great momentum you had is gone. So what has happened??

Your body needs time to adapt to changing levels of exercise. If you go from being sedentary to active or from low to high intensity, your body may not be able to compensate fast enough. Your muscles get tight, sore and over-loaded and your tendons get inflamed and painful. This lack of adaptation can lead to injuries like muscle tears, torn ligaments and tendonitis. It is vital to start exercise and to increase intensity slowly/gradually!

So what can you do?

*Have a check up with your GP. Your physician will inform you if you have any medical conditions (or are on medications) that will impact your ability to safely exercise. You may need to start extra slowly or avoid certain things.

*Check the ‘health’ of your running/exercise shoes. Many lower limb sporting-related issues start because of unsupportive or inappropriate footwear. It is recommended that runners are replaced every 6-12 months (or every 1000km’s). Even though they may look fine on the outside, it is the supportive aspects of the shoe that wear out the quickest.

*Don’t train too hard. You can achieve great results with medium intensity training. In fact, fat burning occurs more effectively at a moderate intensity rather than by going ‘flat out’.

*Make sure that your technique is correct with weights and other strengthening exercises. Get a personal trainer to check your technique if possible. Take it slowly, it is better to do less and do it correctly than do more and get injured.

*Give your muscles at least 48hrs recovery between workouts, otherwise they may start to break down/falter. A day off between working on a particular muscle group ensures that any micro damage has been able to heal and that the muscle has becomes stronger before challenging it again.

*Stretch – regularly! It is important to stretch after (and preferably before) any exercise to keep your muscles supple and functioning at full capacity.

*Walk before you run. (e.g. For the first week, walk 2 minutes, run 1 minute. The next week 1 minute each. The third week run 2 minutes and walk one. Etc…)

*Remember to do a warm up and a cool down. As it suggests, a warm up warms your muscles and tendons up so that they are supple, loose and ready to exercise. After exercise while your muscles are still warm is the best time to stretch.

So remember, to stop injury preventing you from reaching your weight loss and fitness goals, start and progress slowly! For further and more specific/individualised advice book an appointment with Dr. David Howard today.


Disclaimer: Information provided in this post is of a general nature and should not be used solely in place of individual advice from either myself or another medical professional. Pascoe Vale Osteopathy and Dr. David Howard will not take responsibility for any injury resulting from following information in this post.

Pascoe Vale Osteopathy provides osteopathic services to patients from a wide number of suburbs such as Pascoe Vale, Essendon, Essendon North, Moonee Ponds, Strathmore, Niddrie, Keilor, Coburg, Brunswick, Oak Park, Glenroy, Airport West, Travancore, Melbourne, Australia.