The New Year is often a time when we make resolutions and start thinking about what we’d like to achieve in the months ahead.
However, as with all goal setting, it’s important to be strategic about how you go about it, as otherwise things can start to unravel quite quickly.
If you’d like to make some improvements in your health or fitness, make sure you’re not making any of these easily avoidable mistakes to ensure you’re not one of the many people that we see getting injured or simply giving up on their resolution around this time.
The 5 Common New Year mistakes:
Starting out too strong:
Whilst you need motivation and enthusiasm to get you started, unfortunately, sometimes this translates into doing too much too soon, which can lead to injury.
For instance, up to 70% of runners experience overuse injuries in any given year (1), and one major cause of this is placing too much load on your body before it’s ready.
Exactly how you build up your training will be different for everyone and will vary with your chosen exercise. For example, if you’ve been completely sedentary, you’ll need to start much more slowly than someone who is wanting to take a previous training program to another level.
A good rule of thumb is to increase your load by around 10% each week and ensure that you allow sufficient rest time between hard training sessions. Most experts agree that this is usually at least 24 hours, or even up to 48 hours.
Not stretching or strengthening:
No matter what your choice of exercise, it’s important to remember the role of stretching and strengthening on improving your performance as well as minimising your chance of injury.
Simply ploughing ahead and ‘hoping for the best’ isn’t really the best strategy.
When it comes to stretching, you’re best to perform what’s known as “dynamic stretching” before you start- these are stretches that incorporate movement. Classic examples are butt kicks or leg swings. The reason for this is that they gently increase your range of motion, whilst also elevating your heart rate and getting your blood flowing, and so help to prepare your body for what’s to come.
If you’d like some inspiration on how to do this, follow us on Instagram to make sure you see our upcoming posts for ideas!
Post exercise is the best time to perform what’s known as “static stretching” in areas that may feel tight- these are your commonly known stretches such as for the hamstrings or quads that you hold in one position, usually for around 15-30 seconds. The reason these are best performed after your workout is that your muscles are already warm, so will respond better to stretching than they would if you tried to do this when they were cold.
The benefits of strength training are huge, and there are not many people who wouldn’t do well to include them in their training programs. In fact, there are so many benefits to strength training that we could devote a whole post to them! Just a couple of examples of these benefits include:
- including exercises such as squats, lunges or ‘core’ work will help your running speed and endurance
- helps to improve or maintain bone density
- the more muscle you build, the more energy you’ll burn even while you’re resting, which can help with weight management
- a properly tailored and monitored program can help minimise your risk of injury and prevent imbalances
Including even 2 strength sessions in your weekly training program can help to bring you big results.
Not mixing it up:
It’s easy to fall into the trap of sticking to the one type of exercise, done the same way each time.
A jog around your neighbourhood, the same half-hearted gym routine, or pulling out your old workout DVD’s.
However, doing these same things a few time each week for months isn’t the best recipe for success.
As the old saying goes- variety is the spice of life- and variety in your training program can:
- Decrease the likelihood you’ll get bored and abandon it
- Minimise the risk of injury or overtraining one particular body part
- Help you to achieve a variety of goals
- Train the different energy systems in your body, so that you can continue to improve all aspects of your fitness
In a nutshell, try not to stick to doing the same thing day in, day out.
To use the running example, simply plodding along for kilometres on end day after day is unlikely to help you run faster, and chances are, you’ll get bored sooner or later. But if you include some speed sessions, or challenge yourself with some hills, you’ll see improvements in a relatively short period of time. Add in some strength sessions a couple of times a week, and you’ve got a well-rounded training program that will minimise your risk of injury or boredom, as well as making things a whole lot more interesting than doing a few laps around the block.
Not setting goals:
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the New Year and fool yourself into thinking that ‘this year will be different’.
But really- who are you kidding?
Haven’t you made the same promise to yourself before?
If you’re serious about making some changes, you need to set yourself a goal, and the best ones are those that make you slightly uncomfortable as they’re the ones you’ll need to push yourself for.
Think you can’t run more than 100 meters? Register for a 5km run.
Want to lose those Christmas kilos? Set yourself a weight loss goal and truly promise yourself you’ll do what it takes to get there.
Whatever your goal, write it down, then make a plan for how you’ll make it happen. Put that plan in your diary, prioritise it, don’t listen to your own excuses and just make it happen.
Not seeking professional advice if you need help:
Is there something that’s holding you back from hitting your goals?
Maybe it’s a little niggle, an injury that recurs every time you try to get active, or you just don’t quite know where to start.
Sure, you can Google “best ways to manage lower back pain” and hope that the generic information is right for you.
Or, you can seek out tailored advice.
Our Osteopaths are experts in musculoskeletal pain management.
We’ve also got a very well-rounded network of health professionals who we can refer you to if you need their expertise.
Book online now to get personalised advice, and truly make 2020 one to remember.
- SPORTS MEDICINE AUSTRALIA.www.sma.org.au [online]. Accessed 31/12/19.