Are you thinking about starting something new in January? Setting some workout goals or planning to participate in a challenge at your gym?
We all love to start the New Year off right with things like new workout routines, gym challenges, or general lifestyle changes. Maybe this year your goal is to run a 5k or compete in your first CrossFit competition, or maybe it is to complete the OrangeTheory Fitness ™ “Transformation Challenge”. This is all well and good, but you must make sure what you are doing is not drastic, is realistic, and is gradual. I can not tell you how many times I have seen someone in March or April who is coming to see me for pain that came on after participating in some form of new workout regimen or routine. I am the last person to tell someone NOT to participate in something, but you have to know yourself, your body, and how to take care of it during this time!
Here are some tips that will help reduce your injury risk as you venture into your new routine.
1. PROCEED GRADUALLY
If your new plan involves a workout routine that your body is not used to then you have to proceed into that new routine as gradually as possible. Maybe that means adding a few extra gym days, or increasing your running mileage. Maybe you are planning to work with a personal trainer in addition to your regular routine in order to get stronger and fit in a new way. The best advice I can give you is make sure that you are not increasing your overall workout intensity by more than 10% per week. That means how HARD you are working should not change much from week to week.
How do you figure that out? You have to understand your baseline and then the level of intensity you are partaking in.
Here are some examples…
Let’s take days of the week. If you normally workout 2 days per week and the challenge asks for 3, then that is about a 50% increase. I am not saying to not go to the gym that 3rd day, but plan accordingly by making one of those days a bit less intense. This will decrease your overall intensity level.
How about a new workout routine… you went from doing yoga and Pilates to starting OrangeTheory Fitness ™ 2 days per week. That is a 200% increase in your intensity level. I am by no means saying that you should not start a new routine, but your intensity level has to stay low and gradually increase as you adapt to the new training program.
Just remember, that most injuries come from doing too much after doing too little for too long.
2. USE YOUR DAYS OFF TO BENEFIT YOU
It is super important for your body to have days that you aren’t in the gym. If you have a plan to go that extra day, then you need to make sure your week has an extra day in it that you are resting. A day full of errands, taking the dog for a 2 mile walk, and a full clean of the house is not a complete rest day. Does taking a full rest day sound foreign to you? That is fine, try to at least do half as much as you normally do on one of the days during the week.
3. GET YOUR RECOVERY IN
This is one of THE most important things to think about keeping as a priority during this time. I am not talking about getting on a foam roller more often, stretching more or getting massages, etc. I am specifically referring to SLEEP, HYDRATION, and CLEAN FOOD consumption. This is something that can be tracked and modified easily throughout your week.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
If you have read my content before, you know well that I am someone who promotes pushing yourself and not shying away from pain all the time. However, there are many circumstances that warrant you to slow it down, lessen the load, decrease the intensity in the short term. If pain starts to sideline you, GO TALK TO SOMEONE. It is not just going to go away if you stop doing that said painful activity. Most pains will go away on their own, but as soon as you start back up again they come back most of the time.
4. TRY A NEW NON-TRADITIONAL GYM WORKOUT
This is a great time of year to do something new that is not an intense workout. Try getting outside on local trails, trying indoor rock climbing, take up gentle yoga or meditation class. These are GREAT things to do on off-days at the gym that do not tax your body.
These are just some things to think about as you proceed into the New Year. They can obviously be applied to many situations at other times of the year, but most people start something new in January and I wanted to give a few guidelines to follow.
The first and third tips are the most important to keep in mind! If you have questions about your new routine, post comments below or reach out to us personally. We are happy to help!
Wishing you all a safe, healthy and Happy New Year!