How to Get Back into Exercise Pain Free in the New Year
‘This year, I am going to starting exercising.’
‘I want to stay healthy and fit.’
‘I want to get into better shape.’
How to safely get into exercise?
Is getting active one of your new year’s resolutions in 2020? Whether you exercise regularly but have stopped as you were too busy celebrating the festive season or you have never exercised before, pay attention to the following. These are the 5 things you need to know before getting into exercise.
1) SMART GOALs
Let’s just admit that human’s often see Netflix and chill to be more appealing than a run up Jacob’s ladder. Setting up goals, especially the SMART ones, increases your chance of success.
SMART is the acronym of:
S- Specific (What is your plan? How?)
A- Attainable (Do not overcommit; Be realistic)
R- Relevant (Align your small goals with your main objective)
T- Time-based (What is the reasonable time-frame to see changes?)
-I want to get into shape by losing 2 kilograms in 3 months. I am going to the gym 4 times/week, including 2 weight-training days & 2 cardio days ✓
-Lose weight in 2020 ✘
2) Do not get hot-headed
It is not uncommon to get hot-headed when you first started exercising. However, your body needs time to accommodate to the training intensity, a sudden increase in training load set you up for musculoskeletal injuries. Muscle strains and tendinopathies are common conditions associated with training load error. Here is a simple method on how to progress your training safely:
The A:C Ratio (A- Acute, C- Chronic)
The A:C Ratio is a simple, yet effective measurement. It suggests that your training load of the week: average weekly workload of the previous 4 weeks should be in the 0.8- 1.3 ratio.1
Adapted from: Windt J, Gabbett TJHow do training and competition workloads relate to injury? The workload—injury aetiology model.British Journal of Sports Medicine 2017;51:428-435.
1) Calculate your training load of each session
-After each exercise training session, ask yourself ‘how intense did that session feel?’ Pick a number from 0 to 10 as indicated on the Borg’s scale. The scale is developed to quantify your training intensity. Then multiply the number with the duration in minutes.
E.g. I ran for 30 mins at moderate intensity (3/10).
My training load of the day: 30 x 3= 90
2) Calculate your weekly training load
E.g. I ran for 30 mins at moderate intensity (3/10), 5 times/week.
My training load of the week: 90 x 5= 450
3) Calculate your average training load of the previous 4 weeks
E.g. I ran for 30 mins at moderate intensity (3/10), 4 times/week, 4 weeks.
My training load of the week: 450 x 4/4= 450
4) Progress your training load based on the A:C Ratio:
E.g. If I decided to progress my training load this week.
My workload of the week: 450 should sit between 1: 0.8 -1.3, which means 360 – 585.
If this sounds too complicated to you, just keep in mind ‘increase your training gradually!’
5) Listen to your body
Have you ever experienced the dull, ache sensation the other day after exercising? This is called DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness. It takes up a whole article to explain what is exactly going on with the soreness. In simple terms, DOMS happens when your muscles are exposed to load/training that they are not familiar with. This is a ‘good type of pain’, which will resolve in 24 – 48 hours. When you have DOMS, avoid vigorous exercises of that muscle group until it goes away. If the DOMs lasted for more than 48 hours, it might be suggesting that there is a training load error, and you are pushing too hard in the last session.
4) Consult a physiotherapist if required
For the general, healthy population, you can start exercising by yourself or find a personal trainer if you wanted to do gym-based exercises. If you have chronic conditions, and you are not sure what exercises are suitable for you, you should consult a physiotherapist before commencement. Conditions that require attention, e.g. Cardiovascular diseases, Asthma, Lung diseases, Lower back pain, Knee pain, Previous fractures, Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis ……
Keep in mind though, ‘5 best exercises for lower back pain’ does not exist. There is no one size fit all approach when it comes to exercise rehabilitation. Your medical history, the actual cause of pain/injury, stage of recovery, fitness level, and day to day routine all requires attention. Even if you are having similar conditions with someone else, what are suitable for him/her might not fit you.
5) Where to start?
The WHO, World Health Organisation recommended at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity (e.g. Brisk walking or Easy jogging)/ 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (e.g. Running, Basketball game) aerobics physical activity.2 Muscle-strengthening activities on major muscle groups should be done on 2 or more days a week.2 If you do not exercise regularly, you can start with running 3 times/week, and basic bodyweight exercises to strengthening your muscles. (e.g. Squat, Lunges, Push-ups, Shoulder press, Bicep curls, and Rowing). All you need is 1– 3 kg weights (e.g. Water bottle/Bag of rice) or an elastic band.
1. Windt J, Gabbett TJ. How do training and competition workloads relate to injury? The workload—injury aetiology model. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2017; 51:428-435. Doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096040
2. World Health Organisation [Internet]. Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Available from: https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/physical-activity-recommendations-18-64years.pdf