Written by Florence Yip, BscPT Registered Physiotherapist at North Burnaby Physiotherapy and Wellness
With the New Year here and after indulging on many holiday goodies, many of us are looking for a plan of getting back into shape. For those who have never participated in a fitness program, it seems like a good time to pledge to one. However, knowing where to start is always a challenge. For those of us who were previously active, but have found ourselves out of routine, need to find a safe and appropriate place to start again. Over challenging your body with unaccustomed activities may lead to musculoskeletal injuries. It is important to start gradually and pace your body. If you were previously active and have not done the activity for a period of time, don’t try to start where you left off. This may lead you to be more susceptible to injuries. If you do end up over doing it, you may experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This is common when your muscles are challenged with too much eccentric exercise. Eccentric exercises are when muscles are loaded in a lengthened position, and typically do occur when the muscles are trying to brake or control the movement. DOMS usually reaches a peak 2-4 days after exercises and will gradually subside after it peaks. During the time when you experience DOMS, don’t let it discourage you from continuing to exercise. You may just need to decrease the number of repetitions of the eccentric exercises or decrease the number of eccentric exercises you’re doing.
Why do I have to warm up and cool down?
A fitness program should always start with a warm up of 5-10 minutes. A warm up allows the connective tissue in your body to become extensible and will help reduce the susceptibility to musculoskeletal injuries. The activity can be a brisk walk, a light jog, recreational activity, or using cardiovascular equipment at the gym. After the activity a cool down is done to help the heart return to its resting heart rate and blood pressure as well as enhances venous return and promotes the removal of lactic acid. A cool down is very important for patients with heart disease as having improved venous return will help prevent cardiovascular complications.
Set achievable goals for yourself. Don’t try to force yourself to go to the gym daily or go do an activity you don’t like. It is important to plan out your fitness program and set attainable goals. This will help you stay healthy and active and want to maintain a fitness program. If you are unsure what to do, or if you have some nagging injury which is preventing you from participating in an activity, consult with a physiotherapist. We are movement specialists and are the most knowledgeable with exercise prescription, especially with populations who have underlying health or musculoskeletal injuries. At North Burnaby Physiotherapy and Wellness we can help you design a program which takes into account your individual health status. We will conduct a detailed biomechanical assessment to help identify the areas of weakness which will help with injury prevention. Get the New Year started on the right track for a healthy injury free year.