As the days get longer and our inspiration and motivation hit a summer high, a lot of people will be considering increasing, restarting or beginning an exercise routine.
So whether you are aiming to be in Rio in 2016 or just wanting to shed a couple of winter kilos, there are a few basic things we should all remember before starting our own Olympic journey. After all nothing kills new found athletic enthusiasm quicker than injury.
Firstly, it is always advisable to consult a health care professional before undertaking any new exercise program.
Before Physical Activity
Before any activity it is always important to warm-up. A warm up only needs to take five to ten minutes, so it is easy to find the time. A controlled and gradual increase in heart rate with activity related exercise is important to increase blood flow to the muscles we are about to use. In general, the warm up prepares the mind and body for the upcoming activity. This will help improve performance and reduce the risk of injury, particularly soft tissue injuries. Stretching may also be of benefit at this stage. Usain Bolt doesn’t run on cold legs and neither should you.
During Physical Activity
“Listen” to your body, if things start to hurt or become more than exercise related pain – slow down or stop. Trying to push through injuries with a no pain-no gain philosophy will only prolong injury. Fatigue is also a big factor in the cause of injury. It can lead to poor technique, which often causes injury, so it is better to stop when overly fatigued. Stopping exercise a few minutes early is better than having a few weeks off with injury. Also, even though it is fairly cool at the moment, it is still important to keep hydrated. Remember to replace lost fluids before, during and after exercise.
After Physical Activity
Just as important as the warm up, is the cool down. This is done by slowly decreasing your level of activity to return your heart rate to resting levels and return your muscles back to their resting length. Stretching is very important post exercise and may help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is a generalised soreness that occurs 24 to 48 hours post unaccustomed exercise. Even after winning gold, Michael Phelps will still swim laps in the cool down pool.
Almost as important as exercising is rest from exercise. The rest phase of exercise is when our bodies repair and rebuild, allowing us to become fitter and stronger the next time we workout. Rest is also important to avoid repetitive strain injuries, such as stress fractures.
If unfortunately injury does occur or you have any questions, please speak to one of our practitioners to help you get back in the game. “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” – Edward Stanley.