Enter any gym in January and you’ll see tons of new (or lapsed) members sweating their way through aggressive cardio and strength-training exercises. But, pushing too hard, too fast, often leads to an injury that can sideline your good intentions.
“People who jump into high intensity workouts with no experience is what keeps me in business,” said Darcy Vanderbie-Pace, PT, MS of Pace West Physical Therapy in Boulder, CO. “That…and weekend warriors.”
Here are Vanderbie-Pace’s recommendations for staying safe when launching a new fitness program.
Assess Your Fitness Level
If you’re starting from zero, proceed cautiously. “Exercising in the water is a great low impact place to start,” said Vanderbie-Pace. Whether it’s swimming laps, aqua jogging, or water aerobics, the pool is an ideal place to ramp up your fitness safely.
Pace also recommends gentle walking or hiking. After you’ve tolerated a mild to moderate challenge for a month – and you’re not worse for the wear – you’re ready to move on to more strenuous exercise.
If you have prior injuries or weakness in a particular area of the body, she recommends that you get an assessment from a physical therapist before you begin any program.
Mix It Up
It’s also important to vary your exercise, as doing repetitive movements can lead to injury. “Move from water to land, so that you don’t overuse particular muscles,” said Vanderbie-Pace. Switching up your routine to include yoga and pilates can also keep you from getting bored and aid in recovery. Pace particularly loves Kaiut Yoga and Avita Yoga, gentle forms that can not only help heal movement restrictions in the body, but can boost your mental and emotional health as well.
Speed Up Muscle Recovery
Work on different muscle groups every day to allow for recovery. If you do lower body exercises one day, do upper body the next. After a particularly hard strength-training workout, Vanderbie-Pace suggests taking a five-minute ice bath.
Not convinced? A five-minute ice bath can reduce inflammation and flush metabolic waste, like lymph. Ice baths can also have overall wellness benefits as well. Challenging your body to endure different types of stimuli, like ice water, builds mental resilience that can help you in your everyday life. Plus, cold water has a positive effect on the central nervous system, which can help you sleep better. And deep, rejuvenating sleep is the most effective form of recovery. Look out for our upcoming post, Restorative Sleep: Set the Stage for Deep, Nourishing Rest This Year, for tips on how to get the best sleep of your life.
“Great Advice. But, My Muscles are Sore Right Now.”
Foam rolling and massage can help alleviate soreness and assist your body in repairing muscle. We love to apply our Relief Body Oils to sore or tense areas of the body. The metal rollerball applicator allows you to easily target the parts of your body in most need.
Remember, too much of a good thing can cause injuries that will keep you off your feet. It’s always better to start slowly and build, then to overdo it and pay the price later.
Take care of your body this year, so it can take care of you!