I have always found that the best way to get started on something is to do it for consecutive days. Exercise is no different than anything else but in the past I have been terrible for this as I used to never do enough to prevent injuries
What I have always done is set a goal, lets say to run a 10k. Well I go in gung ho and run hard everyday for a week, not getting started and moving up in distance but just moving up too quick and I end up with lots of aches and pains and injuries that just end up stopping me. This is bad.
What happens when we start and exercise program is that we need to strengthen a few things. We need to strengthen our will, our tenacity, our strength, our joints, and our form. Lets looks at each of these.
Prevent Injuries By Working Up
Strengthen our Will – The very first day that you go for a walk or run, or even a workout you will be excited and carve out a piece of your day to squeeze it in. We are all busy and fill everyday so something falls off that day. What falls off? TV, or Facebook, or just some quiet time, even sleep sometimes. Well after that first day, especially after the first week life invades again.
For me my internet surfing and quiet time have to be sacrificed to get a workout in unless I workout at lunch. The trouble is that after a few days of this for most people, me included means that life is not the same as it once was. I miss idle time, I miss just “catching up”. But these priorities are not as important as a daily workout. In my household workouts are a top priority but in most households they are not. So what do you do? Strengthen your will, get serious about your exercise priority and realize that there are no shortcuts. You can workout at lunch (like I tend to do) but if that is not convenient then maybe getting up an hour earlier to workout will help. Whatever it is this is a painful change in your schedule.
Strengthen our Tenacity – I call it this because I am not much of a runner. If I start running then a few minutes in I will think about walking for a few minutes. After about 20 minutes of running I want to just be on the couch. Again this is tough at the beginning but exercise in the beginning is always tough. After a few workouts, and I really mean a few like 5 or 6 workouts your brain gets less lazy, and your body is able to get these workouts done and you don’t have the lazy brain telling you to stop because your body knows it can handle more.
Our Strength – Leg strength and arm strength, even core strength takes time to increase. The trouble is that we get sore. After a or cardio workout you feel invigorated but in the morning it is hard to get out of bed. I feel this most in my legs and lower back but truth is that your body will get the hang of it and strengthen pretty quick unless you take a week or more off of your training. This is another reason to not be dumb like me but to progressively up your output as you get your workouts, or new style workouts going.
Our Joints – This is a tough one for me. Whenever I start running I know that my legs and back will get sore later but what really has always stopped me is my joints. I have trouble with my hips and my knees and always have. One of the problems with me is that I have a pretty big frame with a fair amount of muscle on it and I don’t think that 200 pound guys are really built to run.
What I have always found is that there are alternatives to hit joints and the internal ligaments better. I find that bike riding has always strengthened my knee joints since there is a lower amount of force but a huge number of reps when you ride a bike. Try to find these high rep ways to strengthen your joints and you will be in much better shape to make them work better.
Our Form – This is critical. Have you ever seen a good long distance runner in training? These guys are awesome. They have short strides, float between strides, and seem to make the action more effortless. This is good form and this makes all the difference to all of the points above. If you learn proper form then the mechanics of the exercise will make things much easier for you and lead to less injuries and a much more enjoyable time training.
Another opposite example of this is a new lifter. Have you ever seen a guy on his first time doing lat pulldowns or bench presses? It is all about jerking the up and down, once you learn the biomechanics of the exercise you will see people with really smooth reps up and down and there is a much more even and steady force on the muscles.
Safest Way to Move Up Our Training
Really there are no excuses for bad form. The easiest way if you are running is to join a running club, if lifting get a few workouts from a personal trainer, and otherwise with most sports you can have someone record you on an iphone or video camera and then after watching this you can go to youtube and watch how a pro moves and see what you are missing.
All this leads to progressive exercise. I know that just for my wife and I starting to do distance walking for our Kidney March we have to eventually get to 100 kilometers in 3 days. The forst week is just a 3 kilometer walk for three days which is easy, but after 8 weeks there are a couple of 20 kilometer walks. Finding time for a 40 minute walk is ok now and our muscles and joints can take it but finding 4 or 5 hours a day in a few weeks will be tougher on our time, muscles, and joints. Having a chance to progressivley move up from 3 kilometers in 40 minutes, to 5 kilometes in and hour and 10 kilometers in 2 hours over a few weeks will allow everything from our style of walking to our joints, our will, and our muscles to get stronger
Follow these steps to prevent injuries and you should have a much more safe and enjoyable summer