Spring is typically a time of change. Temperatures warm, flowers come into bloom and we spend more time enjoying the great outdoors. It can also be a time of change in our exercise habits as there are more daylight hours and we also consider looking our best at the beach. With this comes risks of injury as people push themselves too hard, too soon or try out unfamiliar training regimes. Here are some handy tips to consider to avoid injury.
1. Get a health check
Consider if you have a pre-existing condition or injury. It may have been some time since you exercised or worked a particular group of muscles. Getting a check-up from a doctor for any medical issues and/or a health check from an osteopath will ensure you are in decent physical condition ahead of any increased exercise regime.
2. Drink plenty of water
It might sound like simple advice but if you’re going to exercise more, you need to take on an increased volume of fluids, since you will be losing more than when you were less active. This is doubly important as you’ll be exercising in warm conditions. Drink water before, during and after exercise.
3. Don’t do too much too soon
For many, there will be an urge to see quick results and dive straight into an intensive workout routine or new sport. For sure you will need to work muscles harder than they are used to and increase your heart rate to improve your fitness, but it’s important to listen to your body and build up to more intensive training levels.
4. Incorrect techniques can be costly
With any new or different exercise regime you’ve got to get the technique right. If you’ve never been inside a gym before, don’t just jump on the equipment and start lifting weights – get a personal trainer to show you how. Similarly, if you’re taking up a new sport, learn the correct techniques for throwing, jumping, kicking etc. and you’ll stand a better chance of avoiding injury.
5. Mix up your activities
By rotating or swapping between different exercises or routines you will benefit from not over-working muscle groups and also stimulate your brain to alleviate boredom. If you are a member of a gym, but find running or cycling outside more stimulating, save the gym for core training or classes.
6. Warm up and warm down properly
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. It’s a corny old saying but it’s so true with exercise. Think of your muscles like rubber bands. If you put them in the fridge for a few hours and then pull them really hard they will most likely snap under the pressure. Your muscles are similar. They need warming up and stretching before exercise and warming down after it, especially after a winter of inactivity.
7. Fuel your body for optimum performance
A great new exercise regime is only going to get you results if you partner it with a healthy diet. A balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables will help you take in the recommended fibre content (30-35g). Stir-fries and salads are a great way to take on fibre and they’re very versatile so you shouldn’t get bored eating them. If you’re planning on some long distance or intensive training, energy gels can be a great replacement of carbohydrates. There are plenty of great running websites that explain why and when you should take them.