If you’ve been someone that has started exercise programs or challenges in the past then you might know the following warning by heart: Don’t overdo it!
I know the warning all too well. First because others have related it to me every time I have started a new exercise program (especially from a cold start). And second from the unfortunate experience of not heeding the warning and becoming injured – usually resulting with me stopping the program to give myself time to heal from the injury. Yes this was me last year when I was running and hiking and putting on too many miles too fast. I wound up with a nasty case of plantar fasciitis (heel pain) taking many months before the pain completely went away. I don’t want this to be me again and I don’t want this to be you either.
Its all too easy to become excited whenever you sign up for a new challenge – the one that is going to help you drop weight, get healthier, and give you the momentum and drive you need to make it into a lifetime of fitness. Its especially a wonderful feeling when you start to feel amazing and even receive comments from your friends and family about how they are already seeing progress – either your slimming down, having more energy, or even just your better attitude about life. And that’s when it happens: you start to think that if a little is good that a lot is even better. You think that rest day isn’t as necessary and so you start upping the intensity every day. You start to recall earlier years when you could run, walk, or bike so much longer and you become impatient on how long its taking to see the progress you want to see and you push harder than you should.
And then you get hurt…
The point of this article is to encourage you to get into your mind and remind yourself that you are doing this for the long term. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to make this a 90-day challenge was to give you more time to encourage you to take it slower and don’t overdo it.
So we wanted to share with you some articles and resources that we have found to be a huge encouragement. And share with you a couple of tips that we have found to prevent injury –
- Tell yourself you’re in it for the long run – First sorry for the terrible pun. And second, know you are not doing this challenge for the next 90 days, but having the goal to turn this challenge into a normal part of your daily and weekly routine moving forward. So if you can consider it that way maybe it can encourage you that you don’t have to do it all right now!
- When you start – start slow…real slow – Depending on you (we’ll get to that in a minute), its best to ease in slowly to your exercise routine. Do you want to run? Don’t think that one day of walking means that you’ll be running 90% of the time the next time out. Depending on your history you might be starting off from no exercise for months or even years. Allow your body to catch up and get the idea you’re trying to make it work.
- Make sure to increase the maximum of 10% per week – Another great tip is to not try to increase your exercise (whether its running, muscle strength, biking, walking) by more than 10% per week. Although this article on the 10% rule is for runners it has great application to another other sport or exercise.
- Understand where your body is and where you want it to be – When I started my 90-day challenge (50 days ago), I knew that I had more weight on my body than I’ve ever had before, had very poor muscle tone and am not getting younger. As such, I knew that I couldn’t start an exercise program the same way I could have 20 years ago – even one year ago. So as you move forward be realistic about where you are now. But at the same time realize where you are headed and just know it might take a bit more time to get there.
- Know it can take muscle strength to do what you want – Often (and I speak from a runner experience) many injuries that occur are due to not having the muscle strength to handle the new exertion. Depending on your goals and exercise program you are doing, you might want to search for strength training related for your exercise type. For example, as a runner I found this amazing Iron Strength workout to give me the strength training I needed to help me with my running.
- Don’t push through pain – Our minds are pretty amazing and the phrase mind over matter usually means you can push through anything with enough determination. But that is exactly what can be our downfall when it comes to injuries and exercise. We just know that we want to meet a goal that we set for ourselves – no matter the cost! But that cost could turn out to be more than you want to pay – meaning months off to nurse yourself back to health. If it hurts then take the time you need to recover and then take it slower the next time. Better to go slower than not at all!
- Watch your heart rate – If you find yourself trying to keep up with those exercise videos and find yourself out of breath the whole time or are just plumb exhausted at the end (more than you would expect) then you might be overdoing it. We’ll be talking about heart rate in another article, but working outside your optimal heart rate because you’re not ready for that level of intensity can be a good sign you’re trying to do too much too soon.
- Listen to your body: It’s talking to you – Along the same lines of not pushing through the pain, make sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Muscles and part of your body in pain are telling you to be careful – or to stop! No one knows you like you know you. Listen to those signs your body is communicating and take it as slow as you need to go.
We wanted to share with you a few videos and articles to help you with both prevention and treating of some of those overuse injuries. Remember, the best treatment really is prevention, but reality says you might be reading this too late or you might do what I’ve done in the past and skip this warning thinking this won’t apply to you – and then it does.
Here’s those prevention and treatment resources:
- Runner’s World: Check out this great 8-minute video on how to prevent and treat those overuse injuries
- The Mayo Clinic: How to prevent training (overuse) injuries
- WebMD: Workout Injuries: Prevention and Treatment
- American College of Sport’s Medicine: Basic Knee Injury Prevention
- USA Swimming: Prevention of Injury in Aquatic Sports
- To Your Health: Treating and Preventing Overused Muscles/Joints
We really do hope this is an encouragement to you especially early on in the challenge so you can slow down now and prevent those injuries before they happen. Happy exercising!
Need to catch up? Come join us on this challenge from the very beginning by clicking on the 90-Day Fitness and Health Challenge and sign up to start receiving your automated challenge from the very beginning!
One final thing…we also have a private Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in this challenge for more ideas! Head to the Fitness and Health Challenge with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!
Disclaimer: We are not licensed health professionals. We are only a couple that are excited to offer you a place where you can find encouragement and resources to help you in your quest for health, weight loss and fitness. Any tips we share should not be construed as medical advice but is only there to let you know of other options for your health. If you have questions or before starting any weight loss or fitness challenge please make sure to talk to your doctor.