April 22, 2011

Spring Into Exercise Injury Free!!

Walking/jogging on softer surfaces
like grass or hiking trails will be
easier on the joints.
It has been a month now since I started my walk/jog program.  Three mornings a week at 6am (yawn) I'm there with my workout buddy walking / jogging (wogging) our way to enhanced fitness.  My buddy isn't new to exercise, but is like a born again Christian in a way. She has seen the light and praises the fitness Gods as much as she can right now. She on fire and extremely motivated. No unlike myself...in the beginning....before I fell apart 10,000 times.

In my 20+ years of experience as a personal trainer / kinesiologist, I have seen this "Spring Fitness Fever" over and over again and (very unfortunately for most people) I have seen how it ends and it ain't pretty. Usually, it begins with an ache in the knee, ankle, back (just name your body part) which tends to get ignored or put aside for the excitement of progress. Unfortunately, the sore body part wins and takes them out quicker than you can burn a marshmallow at a campfire (see how I'm sticking with the spring/summer theme here?).

It is more important than anything to
stretch after exercise to help prevent
injury. Hold each stretch for a max
30 seconds and focus on the major
muscles of the lower body (quads,
hamstrings, IT bands, gluts, calves,
and lower back). Your body will
thank you.
What most exercise born-agains don't know is it takes your connective tissue (the tendons and ligaments) twice as long to gain strength as your muscles do.  Therefore, all that strength you feel overtime shouldn't mean going harder, faster, longer, or more often....but it usually does. Because of this untimely overload, the poor connective tissue is freaking out trying to catch up but soon become inflamed and unable to keep up the facade (sorry for the cheezy attempt at anthropomorphism).  This will lead to an injury that stops all activity and, furthermore, squelches the "on fire" motivation and interest in the necessary rehabilitation to continue.....activity ceases and the individual then believes they "aren't meant" for running, cycling, or whatever is to blame for their injury.

There is no "bad" exercise, only "bad" ways to train. There is also nothing wrong with attacking your morning jog with as much passion as an anemic would attack a raw steak....it just takes patience, planning, exercise awareness, and an underestimation of ability.  That's a tall order for someone who has just realized they can do this and wants to do more. I think that is just human nature.  I had always blamed running for my injuries, but it was my training that sucked. I always went too hard, fast, and long and then wondered why I was hobbling 2 months later. I was so stubborn that I blew out both Iliotibial Bands (running across the side of the knee and hip) 8K into a half marathon.....stupid, stupid, stupid. I spent years rehabing that one.

So for those who have found a re-motivation to exercise please (for the health of your connective tissue) underestimate your abilities, find a fitness professional who is able to write you out a training schedule (or even a run clinic may do it - although I have found them to be lead by ignorant "trainers" who are there only because they have run a couple of marathons themselves). Be sure to get your information from an educated source. This would be a certified personal trainer (not aerobics instructor - they are certified for teaching exercises to music and do not have the extended education to prescribe exercise) or, better yet, someone with an advanced degree in exercise science.  Do not copy what your friend has done for a year or listen to your brother-in-law because he has run a 10K successfully. Experience as a runner or exerciser doesn't mean they are a trainer or educated in exercise science.

This is only a simulation of my fears
wogging through the woods alone.
No cartoon bear was actually used
or hurt in this photo and I'm sure
the real ones aren't as short or cute
either.  Cute kid though!
Meanwhile, I'm crossing my fingers that my wogging buddy doesn't injure herself before May is over or I will be wogging in the woods by myself with bear spray in one hand and a bat in the other. Cause it's not about her injury as it is about my wogging program.....kidding....sort of.

Have a wonderful Easter!



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