For many, the beginning of a new year brings with it new-found enthusiasm and commitment to improving health and fitness. Yet research from the University College of London* has shown that around one-quarter of people give up their resolutions after just one week, while fewer than one in 10 will maintain their goal to the end of the year.
To make sure back pain doesn’t get between you and your goals, Marc Sanders, a chiropractor in Camberley and member of the British Chiropractic Association, shares his tips and hacks on how to kickstart 2020 as you mean to go on and find your ‘new you’ for January and beyond.
1. Slow and steady wins the race
“Many of us are inspired by the beginning of a new year to hit the gym more, take up a new sport or generally be more active. This new-found enthusiasm is great, but it can easily lead to us becoming over-ambitious with our goals. If you’re undertaking a new exercise programme, make sure you listen to your body and give it time to adapt to the new loads you’re driving it through. Start slowly; little and often is best.
2. Keep calm and think long-term
“If you’re starting a new class, know your limits of what you will achieve in a single session versus over months of multiple sessions, and don’t be tempted to push your body beyond its current capacity, just because that’s what an instructor asked you to do. If you’re new to yoga or Pilates, sometimes smaller classes are better as the instructor can spend more time with you to correct and guide you towards the best form. If you’re starting to run regularly for the first time, apps like couch to 5K will help you increase your distance over time to avoid injuries. Or, perhaps you’re weight training. In which case, progress the load gradually over time, rather than changing to a heavier weight each session.
3. The warm up before workout
“Always warm up your muscles by doing a less intense version of the activity you are about to do. For example, if you’re about to go for a 90-minute kickabout, take a page out of Cristiano Ronaldo’s book and do a few leg swings on the sidelines first. Or, if you’re going to work out at the gym and it’s within a suitable distance, an easy trick is walk there instead of taking a car. By performing more active stretches before you exercise, you’re increasing the blood flow to your muscles and, in turn, making your connective tissues more pliable.
4. Pain isn’t always pain
“Aching after exercise isn’t just ok, it’s actually very common if you increase the intensity, duration or frequency of exercise, particularly if it’s a new exercise that you’re not accustomed to. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. If you find that you’re experiencing an increasing amount of back pain and exercise isn’t helping, it‘s always worth going to a registered health professional, such as a chiropractor, to treat your pain and to find a better exercise for you.
5. Your body knows best
“The human body is an amazing, adaptable machine. If we allow it time to heal between sessions, it will slowly increase its capacity over time. Frequency, intensity, pace – our bodies will tell us if it disagrees with any of these things, so it’s important to listen to it. If you feel like you’re pushing yourself too hard, pull back a little and continue exercising at a lower intensity rather than not at all.
6. It’s the little things
“Switching up your routine doesn’t mean that you need to make drastic changes. If you’re sitting for a long time, simply getting up and moving around every 20-30 minutes can make a massive difference (an easy trick is to stand up every time you scroll through Instagram to see how others are choosing to start their new year!). Another top tip is to perform some simple stretches whilst the kettle is boiling for a cuppa.”