As we move into the warmer Spring and Summer months a lot of people naturally start to be more active and have a renewed focus on improving their health.
This is also a time of year that we see more injuries as people start getting back into a fitness routine. Obviously, the goal is to improve your health and fitness so you can enjoy your favorite activities, not be held back or left out of the fun because of an injury.
If you find yourself a little (or a lot) out of shape, here are 7 tips for getting back into a fitness routine to improve your health and avoid any injuries or setbacks.
1. TAKE IT SLOW
Once you’ve made the commitment to get back into a fitness routine it’s easy to want to go all out, but that could be a BIG mistake that leads to an injury for a lot of people at the start of a new fitness program.
If you haven’t worked out for a while, don’t go out for a run or do heavy weights at the gym your first week. Instead start with a walking program and build up to jogging or running as your fitness level improves. Start with lighter weights and few sets at the gym to give your muscles time to adapt before throwing on the heavier weights.
2. DON’T SKIP THE WARM-UP & COOL DOWN
Most people fundamentally understand the importance of a good warm-up or cool down period, but many people still SKIP these very important steps in their fitness program.
A warm-up revs up your cardiovascular system, increases blood flow to your muscles, and prepares your joints and connective tissues for the exercise to come. A good warm-up reduces the stress on your muscles, joints and connective tissues, which also means less muscle soreness and less risk of injury.
A cool down period after exercise is equally important. This allows your heart rate and blood pressure to gradually return to normal. If you just suddenly stop exercising without a proper cool down your blood pressure can drop too quickly.
If you’ve ever felt lightheaded or passed out after a workout…this is probably why!
Once you’ve allowed a few minutes for your heart rate and blood pressure to normalize, this is a perfect opportunity to do some targeted stretching while your muscles are still warm. Stretching after exercise helps improve your recovery time, decrease exercise related soreness, and improve the overall benefits of your workout.
Bottom line…don’t skip the warm-up or cool down. It would be a shame to put in that much effort to improve your health and fitness only to get injured because you didn’t take care of your muscles.
3. PLAN FOR RECOVERY
Recovery is one of the most important parts of any exercise or training program and overall wellness. Exercise is considered a stress to your body. In the right dose exercise stress is GOOD and leads to improved strength, endurance, balance and protects us from injury
Too much exercise without adequate recovery can increase your risk of injury and other problems associated with “overtraining”, such as a weakened immune system, increased risk of illness, poor performance or a plateau in progress toward your goals.
Keep in mind your “recovery” can be what we call “active recovery”. Meaning you don’t have to sit on the couch to recover. For example, if your primary exercise is walking spend some time working in the garden or go for an easy bike ride. If you normally run, go for a walk instead. If you lift weights at the gym, give you upper body a break and focus on your lower body, or play a round of golf to change it up a little.
The idea is to give the muscles you workout on a regular basis some time to recover at least 1-2 times per week depending on your routine. In the meantime, you can still stay active and enjoy another activity.
4. CREATE A “WELL-ROUNDED” PROGRAM
People often focus on one type of exercise like cardiovascular fitness or strength training and neglect the other types of exercises. If you really want to improve your health and avoid injuries, you need to create a “well-rounded” fitness program.
Sure, cardiovascular exercise and strength training are important, but don’t leave out stretching, joint mobility, core stabilization and balance. They are all important for different reasons and will help decrease your chances of an injury, so you can keep moving forward on your journey to better fitness and improved health.
5. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
If you are trying to improve your fitness and your health, its important to track your progress over time. How else will you know if all your hard work is paying off?
There are several ways to track your progress:
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6. PAY ATTENTION TO PAIN
I’m not talking about the normal discomfort you should expect from exercise that challenges your body in a safe and healthy way. I’m talking about REAL PAIN.
Pain is the body’s signal that you’ve gone too far or done too much…or even worse you’ve injured yourself. This is not the time to live by the “no pain, no gain” motto!
Pay attention to your body’s pain signals. You may need to allow more rest and recovery time and start again slowly as your pain resolves. If your pain is severe, does not resolve within a couple weeks or gets worse it may be time to consider getting help from a physical therapist or other appropriate health professional.
7. GET A PROGRAM TAILORED FOR YOU
If you’re currently struggling with a new or nagging injury, or persistent aches and pains that are stopping you from exercising, or even worse, are becoming a daily problem that makes it hard for you to sleep, do simple activities in your day, and leaves you reaching for pain relievers to get through the day, then we can HELP YOU!
Or, if you’ve just been off your game for a while and are feeling a little confused or overwhelmed about how to get started with a fitness program that is safe and effective, then we can HELP YOU too!
Regardless of where you’re starting from, we can provide you with a step-by-step “well-rounded” program tailored specifically to you and your needs, to help get you back to the exercise and activities you enjoy in the quickest and safest way possible.
More Solutions For Getting Back To Fitness, Improving Your Health & Avoiding Injuries
If you’re ready to get help from a physical therapy specialist, just give us a call at 503-744-0046 to schedule or click the link below to fill out a short form and we’ll call you to arrange a time for your Initial Evaluation & Treatment Session.
Click Here To Arrange To See A Physical Therapist
If you’re still a little unsure if physical therapy is the right solution for your pain or problem, you may prefer to start with a FREE In-Person Discovery Visit . This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have and discover:
If you would like to take advantage of one of our FREE Discovery Visits, simply click the link below to complete a quick and easy form and we’ll be in touch to arrange a time for your visit.
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There is no obligation! After your consultation if you decide you want to work with us, great! We can't wait to see your transformation unfold! If not, we will try to guide you to the right person to help you.
More Information About How Physical Therapy Can Help You
If you still have questions about physical therapy, then download our free e-book entitled:
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You can also check out our other back pain blogs by clicking the link below.
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Helping active adults FINALLY get rid of their aches, pains and injuries, so they can keep moving, stay active and improve their health naturally - without pain medication, injections or surgery.
Oregon City, OR
Dr. Julie Krueger