Happy (belated) New Year!

Sorry, a bit late with this but I’ve only just heard that it was New Year! Only kidding, but this is my first post on Medium, so it seemed like a good place to start.

Have you made your resolutions yet?

So, it’s that cliché time when everyone decides to improve their health. Whether it is to lose weight, gain mass or get stronger.

If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late. Here are a few different ideas (with different levels of commitment) that may help if you’ve been struggling:

  • Simple and free — cycle, walk or run to work.
  • Free — start running or cycling for fun
  • Commitment — Join a gym
  • Social — Join a sports group

The list could go on!

Get the Balance right

But when you start your regime if you rush it or push too hard too soon you are most likely to get a strain or a sprain but don’t despair there are simple ways to get around it.

Warm up properly make sure your heart rate is slightly higher and your breathing a little faster and dynamic stretches to mobilise your joints. Ease yourself into the workout.

If you balance your program properly you can avoid injuries such as tendonitis or the dreaded shin splints.

Keeping up the Motivation

Of course, once an injury sets in, it’s much harder to keep going. So why does this happen so much?

I think one reason is that people tend to overlook the full picture. They evaluate how to achieve certain goals,such as losing weight or gaining muscle, considering how to do it; how much weight they need to press; how many reps and sets they need to do; how far they need to run; and for how long. Short term results can be measured with a quick step onto the bathroom scales.

Nothing wrong with that. But it misses the value of having an all-round program. This means that mistakes are made — and one of the most common is that when time gets pressured, people decide to save time by removing or ignoring adequate stretching. This is most likely because the primary objective is to achieve your set goal — and the exercises will help you achieve your goal, while the stretches won’t, per se.

The Importance of Maintenance

The motto for 2016, then: stretching, stretching and more stretching. Here, in sports terms, we’re talking about ‘maintenance’ rather than ‘conditioning.’ You wouldn’t expect a car to just keep on going if you only put petrol in it. It needs some TLC, some oil, maybe, to stop the engine from ceasing. The body is exactly the same.

So how does maintenance (in this instance stretching) work as far as the body is concerned? Put simply, every time you physically exert yourself, it forces muscles to change and, as they do so, this causes micro tears. When the muscles heal, they heal in a haphazard state that, in turn, forces the muscle to contract resulting in a shorter range of motion that creates pain and restricts movement over a increasing periods of time.

The Benefits of Stretching

Like oil in a car, stretching can help maintain your normal range of motion as well as help you keep smooth fluid movement in the joints and muscles.

This is why professional athletes take their maintenance training very seriously indeed. They are trying to prevent any “scar tissue.” For instance, in any event a contraction through scar tissue can make you that 100th of a second slower and this could mean the difference between first and second.

Good luck

So if you are doing something new or have a new year’s resolution to improve yourself, allow me to suggest one thing. Don’t just think about your goal, consider it a lifestyle change that always makes time for maintenance training. You could even try classes or exercises specifically aimed at stretching, or look for certain types of massage.

Good luck and don’t forget I am so proud of you for improving yourself and your lifestyle and am with you all the way — find out more at www.lifestyle-therapies.co.uk.

Happy new year!!!

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