“New Year, new you.” That’s the saying right? For many of us that means getting back in shape, losing weight, and hitting the gym. However, you must beware of the pitfalls of doing too much too fast, not having a plan, not knowing the proper form and technique, and not knowing how to properly progress your exercise program. Failure here can and will result in lack of results, poor adherence and compliance, and worst of all injury.
Many people have tendencies to just jump in the gym blind, without any sense of direction. They just hop on the treadmill and start running, or aimlessly pick up a few dumbbells with not the slightest clue of how to properly warm up or safely progress their chosen activities. A proper warm up is crucial for preventing injury. It helps get your heart rate up to a working level, increase blood flow throughout your body, increase muscle extensibility, and increase joint mobility. This will improve your quality of motion through various exercise movement patterns, in turn reducing your risk of injury.
Proper exercise progression is also a key component to success and achieving your desired results. You don’t want to get stuck in a loop of doing the exact same exercises, sets and repetitions, and resistance. A vital mistake often made by new gym goers is to do more weight than they can handle, being under the impression that more weight equals more muscles. But in reality, it usually equals poor form and technique. Another classic misconception is that low weight and high repetitions at a fast speed will get you more “toned”. These are both easy ways to find yourself injured and unable to adhere to your desired exercise program.
If you are one of those people who are thinking about getting back in the gym as part of your New Year’s Resolution, you may want to think about having a health care professional perform a general musculoskeletal screen to help identify any possible impairments that may predispose you to an increased risk of injury while beginning your journey on the quest to a healthier lifestyle. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you’re injured to address a problem. The best way to treat an injury is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Let us help you start your New Year’s off right, and pain free!
Peter Geloso DPT is a physical therapist at Amity Physical Therapy. He received both his Bachelors in Exercise and Sport Science and Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Elon University. He has been a licensed Physical Therapist in the State of Connecticut for seven years. He can be reached by phone with any questions at (203) 389-4593.