How to remain injury free when starting a new exercise programme

During lockdown, we are seeing more people take a more serious route with their health. And I expect this will continue after lockdown with more people exercising to maintain their good health. Of course, this is a good thing, but one of the major barriers to exercise are injuries. Those starting a new exercise programme should consider how they will do this without getting injured.

Build up volume

Volume is a term strength and conditioning coaches and physios would use to describe the amount of work done. For example, 5 repetitions of a bicep curl at 10kg is equal to 50kg. In simple terms volume is the amount of weight x by the amount of sets, in this case 10×5. This is normally applied to weight training but can be applied to other forms of activity, if someone ran 5 miles a day then that would equal a volume of 35 miles per week.

Volume is important because the body will attempt to adapt to increases in volume but large changes in volume will often lead to injures. For example, if a home worker in lockdown started to train for a marathon after weeks of sitting and went straight into a volume of 35 miles per week, that would likely cause an injury because the body could not adapt to this change in volume. It would therefore be better to start slowly. Start with around 6 miles of volume a week, and add a couple miles each week to work up to the goal.

When starting a new exercise programme, consider the volume change and work up to your goal slowly. Some programmes work this out for you, like couch25k which the NHS recommends.

Focus on technique

Getting the right technique will help prevent injuries by reducing the total force required (making the exercise more efficient) and reducing stress on certain structures. If in doubt, employ a coach.

Vary your training

The body works in 3 cardinal planes, the sagittal plane (up and down), frontal plane (side to side) and transverse (rotational), the body has sets of muscles which produce each of these movements. Overtraining one of these muscle sets will cause the others to become inactive and injuries can then occur. For example, in very simple terms, training running alone will train the muscles that push you forward, this can cause an imbalance where those muscles start to become dominant and the muscles which push us side to side and in a rotational movement become weak and inactive. This may result in knee pain for example where the glutes have become inactive. This is much akin to a weightlifter who only trains bench press and wonders why their shoulder hurts.

Have a varied training programme, work the glutes, work the rotator cuff, if you are a swimmer vary your strokes, balance your training programme.

Get the proper equipment

This one almost goes without saying. No matter what sport/activity you are looking to do, get the proper kit. Running shoes are a true pet peeve of mine. Get a good pair.

Warm up? Warm down?

This is a contentious point in the scientific literature and I have wrote about this in the past. Warming down has little research to suggest it is effective and personally I do not warm down. I do, however, warm up. The science says that there is not enough evidence to refute warming up although be mindful of what you do when you warm up. Do not static stretch unless your activity involves a high degree of flexibility, such as a gymnast. Instead opt for five minutes of light cardiovascular activity (jogging), followed by dynamic stretching and then drills/skills that are specific to the activity.

How can we help?

Here at Joints and Points we not only are here to help when you are injured, our qualified physiotherapists can also advise you on how to programme activity effectively to reduce your injury risks. Our physiotherapists can also advise you on technique and have a broad knowledge of technique and biomechanics within sports.

Face to face and hands on treatment is available in the Bromborough office. Since lock down we have also been providing remote Physio and Talking Therapy services and have received great feedback so far. All because you are staying safe at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to help when you need it! Our physiotherapist’s are available to offer any help we can, DM, email or call us.

Office number – 0151 345 6823

Office email – [email protected]

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