How to Plan a New Exercise Regime
This information guide is aimed at anyone looking to start a new exercise regime. We will focus on how to make sure it’s a success whilst minimising potential injury hazards.
January is the time of year when many of us make our New Years resolution to get fit! As a physiotherapist this is fantastic to see as so many of the problems we come across in clinic are partly caused by a lack of exercise and the associated problems this causes.
At Physiostaion we wanted to produce a simple guide to help ensure that your new exercise regimen is a success.
One reason that many new exercise regimens fail is due to injury. As the saying goes ‘Prevention is far better than the cure’ and so with this in mind we wanted to provide you with some of our injury prevention top tips!
There are some simple steps we can all make to reduce our risk of injury and improve our general health and wellbeing. The majority of sport and fitness related injuries occur because of simple avoidable errors in training. Too much, too hard, too soon, with too little rest will increase the risk of injury.
Milo and the Calf
Over 2000 years ago, Ancient Greek legend tells the tale of a man with incredible strength and athleticism. His name was Milo of Croton.
Milo was a six-time wrestling champion at the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece. Legend says that Milo built his amazing physique and strength through a very simple but unusual method.
One day, a newborn calf was born near Milo’s home. Milo decided to lift the young calf up and carry it on his shoulders. The next day, he returned and did the same. Milo continued this strategy for several years, returning each day to pick the calf up and carry him around his village and local countryside.
As the calf grew, so did Milo’s strength, until he was the strongest wrestler in Greece and could carry, the now fully grown bull upon his back.
Although we wouldn’t recommend finding yourself a calf, Milo teaches us the most important principles of creating a successful exercise routine.
Start slowly with a weight or exercise that you can manage. Milo didn’t go straight to the field and try and pick up a fully grown bull. He started with a young calf. Gradually increase the weights you lift, the distance or speed you run and the time you spend exercising. Milo’s calf grew slowly which meant the challenge gradually increased, day by day, week by week, year by year. It took time and patience!
There is so much marketing surrounding the fitness industry. Many programmes promise amazing results in very short periods of time. It can be hard to know how best to exercise.
The legend of Milo tells us everything we need to know about designing an effective exercise regime. Find an activity you enjoy, start with an exercise you can manage comfortably, gradually increase the challenge day by day, week by week and be consistent.
Your body is amazing and with this training approach in time it will adapt getting stronger, fitter and more flexible.
These basic principles underpin any effective exercise program. Simple is best!
Listen to your body
Many reading this article may not have exercised regularly for months or years. It is important to listen to your body and learn when to push and when to back off.
When we start to exercise it is normal to feel some discomfort in our muscles and joints both during and after exercise. This discomfort is our bodies ‘alarm’ to let us know we are putting new and unusual stress through our tissues. Like any alarm it is designed to sound long before any damage or injury occurs. Think of it like the petrol warning light on your car.
We may however need to slow down, drive more carefully and begin to start thinking about when and where we can refuel. Unlike a car, the body learns and adapts. It physically changes. The tank grows and the body learns to run more efficiently meaning that we have to go much further before the warning light shows. To use the car analogy you upgrade to a new more efficient car as well as becoming a better driver.
Rather than avoid movement when you are sore after exercise, ‘active recovery’ has been shown to be more effective. Gentle exercises such as stretches, walking or swimming are great ways to ease the muscle soreness associated with a new exercise regimen. Choose something fun and gentle. This will also help you relax and manage stress.
Some people find massage is helpful when they are training hard. Although our body is quite capable of recovering on its own, massage can help to reduce the soreness associated with exercise. Sports massage is a type of massage that is popular. Read more about Sports Massage.
If you have persistent pain during or after exercise, or if you suspect you have suffered an injury, please see our Injury Treatment Guide. Additionally, there are some other important factors in helping prevent injuries which can be found in our supplementary Injury Prevention Guide (coming soon).
Finally, if you need any support with building an exercise programme that works for you, or need any assistance with pain or injury, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.