How to train smart!

With the New Year round the corner, you might decide to challenge yourself with some healthy resolutions. Don’t let injury set you back and stand in the way of your 2021 health and fitness goals!

With the unprecedented year we have just had, our training and exercise regimes may have changed either by choice due to the recent lockdowns, meaning we have more time on our hands for physical activity or by enforcement due to closures of gyms, pools and leisure facilities. For others, the start of the new year may just be the start of a new you and the beginning of your health and fitness journey. As we enter January, most of us will likely fall into one of these groups. If not, we may have just been less frequent with our exercise over the festive period and tempted by a few extra mince pies instead! All these factors can increase our risk of injury. However, we should not let this deter us from physical activity as the benefits by far out way these risks. Instead, follow this handy guide to ensure you stay in the low risk and even injury free population!

  1. Ensure your work station is suitable: its likely you will spend most of your day here, so its crucial your set up is posture friendly. Postural changes can alter the way we move, particularly when performing physical activities. These changes will ultimately affect our movement mechanics and increase our risk of injury. Ergonomic advice is recommended if your work station has changed or never been assessed.
  • Know your limitations: if you haven’t performed physical activity for a few weeks or even months, your training capacity and threshold will have decreased. Ease yourself back into any training schedule and ensure progressions are gradual.
  • Allow time for recovery and adaptations: when a muscle has worked, it produces waste product and becomes fatigued. This effectively leaves us with a short, tight muscle. It is essential we perform some low-level active movements and stretches (e.g. yoga) to ensure muscle length is returned and able to perform again under physical activity demands. A short, tight muscle is a weak muscle when asked to lengthen. Don’t be a victim of an injury that “started with tightness, then I felt it go”.
  • Suitable equipment: invest in your health, especially when it comes to footwear. Everybody is different – ensure you have the right footwear or running shoe for your needs. There is a lot of research out there for all types of footwear from barefoot to stability and arch support. My main advice would always be comfort first! Always follow expert advice if you have been prescribed corrective footwear/insoles. Medical professionals should always prioritise comfort when prescribing orthotic needs.

In summary, our aim should always be to move well first, before we then move quicker and more often. The above guide should enable us to achieve this whilst reducing the risk of injury burden that will set us back and prevent us from achieving our training goals, however big or small. As with all guides this will only work if we remember to TRAIN SMART and know our limitations when progressing.