Keeping that New Year commitment to looking after yourself
The most beneficial thing you can do for yourself is engage in a daily movement routine. I say movement, because sometimes ‘exercise routine’ can conjure up thoughts of needing to ‘smash’ oneself by engaging in some sort of gruelling, physical activity where no pain, no gain is the mantra. This does have a place, but most people don’t need to do that to become mobile, happy and healthy.
Typically, if you are on ‘the comeback,’ or even starting from a pretty good base and looking to maintain, I always advised a regular mechanical check over to make sure all the moving parts are moving to their optimal. We look out for restricted areas that need to be released to allow you to return to activity and assess the functional capacity of the tissue to screen for injury risk and ultimately to prevent from injury in the first place.
If you have not regularly exercised in a while and you are starting back, remember slow and steady – build up! You have as much time as you need. There is no point going hard in January only to have to rest up in February and March….then struggle to get the motivation to start up again in April, which gets put off until May!
Along with appropriately warming up, cooling down, stretching and rolling, you can reduce your risk of injury, improve your recovery and performance by regularly attending a yoga class that is right for you and getting some regular massage treatment, especially in the early days…just like the professionals do.
Exercise that focuses on awareness and control of your movement, such as Clinical Pilates, is a necessary part of your regime along with adequate recovery and preparation. Clinical Pilates is one of the best movement regimes to help you understand and become aware of how you move, to re-learn movement that may be ‘out of sync’ and need improving and to strengthen your muscles and joints at angles just not achievable with ‘regular’ training.
It is important to move beyond ‘re-training’ and to work with someone like an Exercise Physiologist, to take what you have learnt about your movement through pilates and apply it to movement tasks of everyday living. It is important to start to replicate usual movement and challenge with load so that you become stronger to perform your ‘tasks of daily living’ – It’s like training for a sport. You break the game or activity into ‘drills’ and practice until your capacity to perform them improves and feels natural…….most people, with recurring or chronic pain, simply need to do something like this, but really, to do this properly, you need help and coaching from a group of experts. Preferably experts who work closely with each other and know who is the best person to be working with at any given time.
Finally through out, it is important to maintain nutrition. A great place to start is with hydration and electrolytes, where Water and Magnesium are the main ‘go to’s’. These will help to keep your energy up, reduce training soreness and maintain your muscle health and suppleness. A great deal of injury prevention and recovery can be achieved with diet and strategic supplementation.
Dr Giulian Di Venuto is principal Osteopath and Director of MOVE Osteopathy and is available for Osteopathic consultations at both Brisbane City and New Farm Clinic. Move Osteopathy also offers, Remedial Massage, Myotherapy and consultations with our Exercise Physiologists, personalised exercise programs in our own rehabilitations gyms and clinical pilates.
We all know movement and exercise helps to keeps us fit and healthy and keep pain and injury at bay. When done correctly simple squats are a great exercise for most people, but if done incorrectly they can have the potential to cause or provoke injury which we have seen many times!
For most fit and healthy people squats are a great all-round exercise that can work many major muscle groups including your core muscles and generally benefit a lot of people. You don’t have to be young, super fit or already have strength to do them. They can pretty much be done anywhere without too much fancy equipment.
So what are the benefits of doing squats?
Squats can strengthen and tone your legs
Squats use your quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, which helps to tone and strengthen the legs. Moving slowly through the squat can make it a much more intense and effective exercise.
Squats can give you a better butt (and who doesn’t want that!)
Doing squats gives the glutes a good workout, helping to strengthen and tighten your glute muscles.
Squats can give you a total body workout
Doing squats with slowly increasing weights in your hands or above your head can engage the muscles of the upper body giving you a full body workout in one exercise.
Squats can strengthen your Core
When done correctly squats can engage your core muscles. Abdominal and back muscles are needed to keep balance during the movement.
Squats can improve your balance and co-ordination
By strengthening muscles and core muscle activation, you may wobble at first …. but the more you practice the better you’ll get
Squats can increase and maintain bone density
weight bearing exercises are excellent and increasing and maintaing bone density
When done properly squats increases joint flexibility in the ankles, knees, hips and lower back are all being used. Upper
SO what are the tips for doing a perfect squat so i don’t hurt myself?
It’s especially important to maintain good technique doing squats especially when using weights. Always follow the steps below. Ask your Osteopath if squats are something that you may benefit from and ask them to go through the movement with you to make sure you are doing them correctly. Seek their advice on if, when and how much weight to add to doing squats to get the best outcomes for you. Doing squats in-front of a mirror can be especially useful to keep and eye on your technique.
Here are the basic tips for good squats.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Tighten and engage your abdominal muscles.
- Lower your body dropping your bottom and bending your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep the motion slow and steady.
- Stop when your legs are parallel with the ground.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds.
- Now slowly press back up keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Repeat the exercise for a total of 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
- Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Once you’re good at doing squats (with no shaky wobble), you can increase the difficulty and effectiveness of the exercise by doing it with weights.
Try holding hand weights in each hand at shoulder level or use a bar across your shoulders, (at the gym you’ll usually see people doing it like this in the ‘smith machine’). You can also just hold one weight (with both hands) or a medicine ball in front of you while you do the squat.
“Lack of time” is the most common excuse in exercise avoidance(1). I’m not sure how that works since we all have 24 hours in a day; an average of 8 hours and 31 minutes are spent in bed and an average of 8 are spent at work, potentially leaving 7.5 hours for food, exercise, chores and “life”. But instead of pointing out these numbers and telling you to bite the bullet and make exercise a priority in your daily schedule, I thought I’d help you out and give you three time-savvy exercise ideas to help you get active this summer without sacrificing your 7.5 hours of “life” time…
Your day IS an exercise session.
Little spurts of activity built into your pre-existing schedule create a surprising daily workout without sacrificing precious time. Get more creative than just taking the stairs; how many squats would you do in a day if you did two every time you picked your kids’ stuff off the floor? Calf raises while you brush your teeth, pushups while you wait for your toast to pop, a few lunges while you wait for the coffee machine to spew out your skinny latte, a set of crunches while you’re on the phone to your mother, 10 minutes of yoga while the baby is sleeping. Try jogging to the train station in the morning instead of taking the bus, or holding a plank for the length of an infomercial while watching TV. This type of exercise won’t break a sweat, won’t feel like a massive endeavor, and won’t waste time, but if you accumulate your efforts throughout the day, you’ll have an ongoing bootcamp-worthy workout keeping you in shape.
You DON’T have to commit 2 hours to a workout, in fact you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas. There is a massive body of research suggesting that ‘high intensity low volume’ sessions are super effective at improving fitness(2). I call them “power sets”. The idea is to work really REALLY HARD for a short period of time instead of moderately for two hours. Follow these 3 simple rules to build your own personalized “power set”
- Keep it short! 10-20 minutes is all you need… and all you CAN do if you’re working at the right intensity.
- Work harder! You’ll only be pushing it for a few minutes so don’t be afraid to go hard. Rest is only allowed at the end of the set, thus keeping your heart rate high and your muscles pumping.
- Choose functional, multi-muscle exercises and rotate through the muscle groups (legs, then arms, then abs, then back). This maximizes your efforts and keeps you from fatiguing early.
My Tuesday morning power set looks like this –
15 jumping squats, 20 tricep dips, 30 sit-ups with torso rotations, 25 push-ups with hip extension, 40 bicycle kicks. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat 4 times. Follow it with a protein filled breakfast and you’re ready for your shower 30 minutes after your alarm went off.
Socialize with Exercise
Coffee with a mate, friendly catch ups, first dates, second dates, sixty-seventh dates; these are all perfect excuses to socialize and exercise simultaneously. A twenty minute walk and a fresh squeezed juice is a much healthier option than a full fat latte and double choc mud cake when your sister is in town. Or how about swapping your Friday afternoon drinks for a game of doubles tennis? Try taking your joggers along to your kids’ soccer practice and catching up on the weeks’ gossip while you and your friends get active. Instead of a fancy dinner for your 7th anniversary go ice-skating! Look through this month’s schedule and ask yourself which meetings you could turn into sneaky exercise sessions.
It’s easy to incorporate a couple of these tips into your everyday life, and once you add your weekly yoga session and Monday night touch football comp (insert your preferred activities!), you end up feeling great and looking fit with enough spare time to enjoy all the benefits!
- Berger, B. G., Pargman, D., & Weinberg, R. S. (2002). Foundations of Exercise, Psychology. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
- Jenkins, D. G., Laursen, P. B. (2002). The Scientific Basis for High Intensity Interval Training, Sports Med; 32 (1): 53-73.
What are your top training tips?
- Management is important. Management is EVERYTHING that happens between training sessions –stretching, using a foam roller, rest days, pre and post workout nutrition, getting enough sleep, and having regular osteopathic and massage sessions.
- Cross training is AWESOME. I love mixing up my training activities. It gives variety to my week, helps me avoid physical and mental burnout, conditions different muscle groups, develops new skills and keeps me active and interested in my exercise.
- Enjoy yourself! We exercise in our ‘down time’ so make sure you are spending this time doing something that you love! Or at least take a friend to make the session bearable!
- Good performance is a mix of strength, speed and technique. Concentrate on improving all 3 elements for best results.
What are the most common mistakes you see people making with regards to training?
- Falling off the horse. It’s hard to get back into training after injury or taking time off, but the sooner you re-commit, the sooner you will regain form and start feeling great!
- People get disheartened when they don’t see results from one training session a week. I believe that a little bit is better than nothing, but just remember that you get out what you put in.
- I see a lot of people who hate exercise because they haven’t chosen an activity they like. If you’re interested in your sport, you are more likely to enjoy yourself, stay committed, and strive to improve; all really important training principles.
- Poor technique. My form isn’t perfect but I’m always striving for improvement by watching online videos and reading blogs and articles, I also constantly monitor my technique while running – not only does it make me faster but it presents intrinsic challenges and prevents injury.
What are your tips on how best to avoid injury?
- Start with slow, light, short sessions. Allow your body to get used to the new movements and the increases in demand. Build things up steadily from there.
- GOOD TECHNIQUE! It pays to take it slow, drop the weight a bit, shorten the distances and do a few technique drills, concentrate on posture and form, or even get advice from a coach/PT. Not only will it decrease your risk of injury but it also improves results.
- If it hurts, STOP! Usually a good stretch and a session on a foam roller will alleviate soft tissue strains. If that doesn’t work it’s easier and more effective to seek help early rather than waiting till that niggles becomes unbearably painful.
- Injury occurs when the physical stress of training outweighs your management efforts. Keep in control with stretching, foam rolling, healthy lifestyle choices, and osteopathy.
What do you do if you get a training injury?
- Rest for 24 hours (maybe with a few light stretches, a bit of ice and absolutely no loading the injury) and go visit which ever osteopath is in clinic the next day!
What are 3 simple things people could do in order to maximise the efforts of their training?
- Mix it up – cross training breaks the monotony of exercise and gives the chance to improve performance in unexpected ways. It also provides rest for overworked muscle groups while strengthening weaker areas. Try something different to your usual routine; think netball, swimming, yoga, hiking or touch football.
- Set a goal – This gives you something to push towards. Commit to an event that you really want to do, a certain exercise you want to master or join a club sport you enjoy. This gives a purpose to your training, a timeline to work towards and a reason to get to the gym in the morning!
- To propel yourself to the next level, get some professional advice- there is an art and science to a good training program and a lot of effort involved in perfecting technique. Both of these things are much easier with the help of someone who knows what they are talking about and does it regularly.
Dr Kieran – Osteopath