The weather seems to have finally settled in to an agreeable pattern of warm days and comfortable nights. And if you’ve been hibernating all winter, this sudden change of seasons is the harsh reminder that swimsuit season is coming, or that 5K you promised a friend you’d buddy-up with, or maybe that New Year’s resolution to whip yourself back into shape. Ramping up your activity level is a good thing. But like many other things that are good for you, doing too much too soon can lead to injury and burnout. No matter your current fitness level or goals, playing it slow and steady can up your chances of success and limit your odds of getting hurt along the way.
Have a Plan. Wanting to lose weight, get fit, be healthy, etc., are noble yet unreachable goals without a tangible action plan. What kind of plan or process will it take to get there? Your plan can start as simply as scheduling time during the week to exercise or eliminating one soda per day. It may be as formal as hiring a personal trainer or coach to get you there. Once you’ve made your plan, commit to it and make it a priority.
Start Slow. Whether you’ve been at it for years or are just starting out, the desire to get where we want to be now is often overwhelming. Building a solid base is critical to gaining the strength and stamina needed to reach beyond our current level of health and fitness, and limiting our chance for injury. Be patient and willing to do the necessary work required.
Set Achievable Goals. If you’ve never had a steady training schedule, or your job or family commitments make it difficult for you to block large chunks of time for training, then running a marathon or completing an Ironman triathlon may be a stretch for you. Be realistic and about what you’ll be able to accomplish. Small, achievable goals boost motivation, foster continuity and encourage success.
Stick With It. Life happens, and often times it’s the things we do for ourselves – like exercise and training – that suffer when duty calls. And that’s OK. If your plans have been temporarily shelved or slightly set back, be flexible and willing to set alternate goals. There’s often no need to shut down the process entirely. Consider joining a training program or hiring a coach to keep you on task.
Rest and Recover. It’s a go, go, go world. We’re pulled in so many different directions these days it’s often hard to find the time to slow down; it’s no wonder rest is an often overlooked component of most training plans. But rest – and sleep in particular – give the body the opportunity to adapt to the mental and physical demands of our increasing workload, and rejuvenate from peaks in training or racing.
Don’t Ignore Pain. Listen to your body. Changes in activity level may leave you feeling sore as the body adapts. Pain is also the body’s way of communicating; letting you know your limits, asking for some much-needed time off, or alerting you of an imbalance, illness or injury. Don’t try and “play through the pain” before you learn to interpret what your body is trying to tell you.
Regular chiropractic care and functional assessments should be part of your health and fitness routine to maintain balance, prevent injury, and address any physical complaints should they occur. When you make chiropractic care part of your routine, you avoid the aches and pains that keep you from enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle.