Avoiding injury on your new-year health kick
Every January, the nation is overcome with people making New Year’s resolutions to get fitter, get healthier, eat less and lose weight, with around one fifth of Britons setting resolutions in 2017, according to YouGov. But whilst this is great in theory, those ramping up their activities too quickly are leaving themselves open to injury.
What you shouldn’t do in January is to simply just throw yourself headlong straight into a high intensity exercise regime that your body might simply not be able to cope with.
As you get older, many of your tissues become stiffer, less elastic and more prone to injury, and also your body’s ability to heal and repair itself after injury or stress reduces. Therefore, if you overdo things and if you do pick up an injury then this might inhibit your ability to exercise and end up simply being very counterproductive. It might even leave you with ongoing issues that will plague you forevermore in the future, leaving you really regretting what you did. You should therefore start slow, be sensible and gradually increase your training, in order to give the body time to adapt to the new stresses and to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Those most susceptible to injury are those taking part in what I call ‘the danger sports’, such as skiing and football. The most common injury I see from people throwing themselves back into exercise too hard or too fast is a tear of one of the meniscal cartilage shock absorbers in the knee. This can cause sharp pains, clicking, catching sensations, giving way, locking or swelling, and if the symptoms are severe or if the symptoms fail to settle, then this can often lead to the patient needing keyhole surgery, with a knee arthroscopy.
In order to avoid injury and potentially requiring surgery, the important thing is to start training gently, and just gradually ramp things up slowly and sensibly over time.
It’s also important to incorporate regular cardio fitness exercise into your weekly routine, and not to be just a ‘weekend warrior’ – doing no exercise during the week and then pounding your body with high intensity exercise or competitive sport at the weekends. If you’re starting a-fresh or if you haven’t trained for several years, then it’s also really helpful to go and see a physiotherapist or a biomechanist for an assessment and for specific personalised advice first, before you train with any ‘bad habits’ and before you potentially pick up any injuries — as prior preparation and prevention are always better than injury, rehab and regret!
19 December 2017–