Appropriate training on return to exercise. How to avoid common mistakes.

For many people the start of a new year is a catalyst for resetting your health, fitness and lifestyle goals. As part of this process many people embark on a new fitness or exercise regime.

However, should the training be inappropriate or performed incorrectly, a person will potentially sustain an injury which will sabotage their ability to achieve these goals.

What we will discuss in this article is ways to avoid these commonly made mistakes and the injurious consequences that may occur as a result.

Often the biggest mistake people make is overestimating their current level of fitness or training capacity. People commonly remember what their fitness or training levels were like the last time they exercised. However, this may have been 6 months, 12months or even 5 years prior. They then use this as the basis for their new training/fitness program.

With any activity you should always start your training at an appropriate level. This training should reflect your exercise history and current level of fitness. Training should then build gradually and systematically over time. Failure to do this will result in overloading structures within the body which will consequently lead to injury.

Structures within the body commonly injured due to this overloading profile are tendons, bone or muscle.

Tendons injured by running based activities, are the Achilles tendon, patellar tendon or gluteus medius tendon. The plantar fascia is a tendonous structure in the foot that is also a commonly injured due to overload. These tendons progressively get more painful over time and if left untreated will worsen to the point that the individual needs to stop activity.

Bone overload also generally occurs in the lower limbs and will present as a stress fracture or stress reaction. Common sites of a stress fracture/reaction are the bones of the foot such as the metatarsals or navicular, but also present in the lower leg – tibia (shin splints) and fibula.

Muscle injuries can occur due to overloading, usually in activities that require repeat acceleration/deceleration and/or high speed running. For example: tennis, basketball and sprint/interval training.
Common muscle groups injured are the hamstrings (speed and repeat acceleration/deceleration, quadriceps (kicking based sports or activities – such as AFL and soccer) and calf. Calf strains are more prevalent in the 30-50 year old age group, often after the resumption of running based activities.

The five ways to avoid all these types of injuries and staying on the path to achieving your goals are:

  1. Be honest about your current fitness levels and training history.
  2. Design a training program that starts at a level appropriate to your current fitness levels.
  3. Your training program is progressively overloaded. This should include a gradual progression of distance, speed, weight (for strength based activities) and skills (eg kicking).
  4. Take into account your past injury history, potential weaknesses and physical deficits. Often these limitations can still be prevalent years after the initial injury and may hamper your ability to undertake certain activities.
  5. Take into account your biomechanics and how your body is built – this may impact on your selection of footwear, running surfaces and types of activities you undertake.

Should you wish to be assessed or receive advice regarding resuming physical activity, or be prescribed an appropriate training/exercise program then contact us at Restore.

Prevention is often better than the cure – and our highly trained and skilled physiotherapists have wide experience dealing with not only elite athletes and weekend warriors but individuals taking up activity for the first time. Our physiotherapists will be able to guide you through an appropriate plan to ensure you reach your goals for 2019.
Because at Restore your well-being is our priority.