Don’t let an injury stop you from achieving your NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS in 2019
The festive season is indeed a happy time of year: office has shut-up shop, perpetual celebrations with colleagues and family alike, indulging both quality and quantity of typical Christmas cuisines and beverages. Like many, your exercise routine has also deployed an out of office email: “4-weekly runs around the lake, 3 pump classes and a weekly walk up Mt Ainslie are all out of the office until January 14th , if you need to get in touch please wait until January ”.
Enjoying your time in the sun on your well-earned time off is essential after a busy year. However the problem lies in the drastic switch between excessive time spent on the banana lounge by the pool to ‘go-time’ where your body is expected to engage in the demanding exercise schedule that you were participating in before Christmas.
From our collective injury experience here at Capital Clinic Physiotherapy we have found that for this reason, January is a high risk time for overuse injuries. We can all agree that getting injured is no way to start a new year!
Here we have devised a few tips (based on up-to-date injury prevention research) to help get your year started with a ‘bang’ rather than a ‘pull’, ‘crunch’ or ‘twang’. So please read the following before you sign out for the summer.
1. Load Management: Progressive is key!
A drastic change in load behaviour is the most common cause of overuse injuries. In other words doing too much exercise too soon can increase your risk of hurting yourself. This is because it takes your musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, tendons and joints) time to adapt to new loads you place upon it. So even though you might be inclined to increase your running distances because you are feeling aerobically fitter, it might be better to give your muscles and tendons time to catch up!
The Christmas period is a high-risk period for this type of injury because for most it involves an extensive period of rest. We are not suggesting that you need to avoid a restful, leisurely Christmas break. What we do recommend however is that the amount of rest should be relative to the amount of activity you want to be performing in January. From here it is important to build up progressively to your target amount.
If you need to front up to pre-season training in January, you will need to do some light/modified running over the Christmas break, so that session 1 is not such a shock to the (musculoskeletal) system! For others, I like to use the rule of thirds: do 1/3rd of your normal routine over the break, then in your first week back add another 1/3rd , then finally back to your full schedule the week after adding the final 1/3rd. Please note that you can apply this rule to other forms of exercise such as weights, cycling or swimming. In summary: be progressive with your training loads!
2. Resistance training: Building capacity to absorb loads
There is a misconception that running makes your legs stronger. While it can indeed make you aerobically fitter, there is not sufficient time under tension during running to make the muscles in your legs adapt in their ability to absorb or produce load. Unfortunately (for non gym-goers) it is this last factor that has the greater influence in preventing overuse injuries, according to the latest evidence in the management of muscle, tendon and even bone injuries! Think of your muscles like an armour which will only develop if given the stimulation to build and re-build. That stimulation can be provided when muscle groups are under load for a period of time.
A rule you can use for your weights training is: 6 seconds under tension, that is 3 seconds on the contraction (concentric) phase and 3 seconds for the lowering (eccentric ). Of course, if you have never used weights before, be sure to get an assessment from a licenced professional that can demonstrate correct technique and prescribe appropriate repetitions and sets tailored to your individual goals.
Keep your eye out for part 2 with more recommendations regarding injury prevention strategies over the Christmas break.