5 Tips To Start Exercising Without Getting Hurt

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In my most recent video, How To Make Quarantine Work For You, Not Against you, I asked you to think about what you want things to be like after this sheltering in place thing is done and gave some ideas of how to accomplish those things.  

I asked what do you want your your life to be like, how is your body is feeling now, how do you want your body to feel and if what you’re doing now feels like it is helping or hindering where you want to be when quarantine is over?

And, of course, I suggested that moving your body will be part of feeling good now and in the future. I told you if you’re not moving… move. And if you’re trying to increase your intensity of exercise or activity… be careful. 

In this post, I want to be a bit more specific in how to start moving again, and give some tips for how to increase your activity level or exercise routine safely, without injuring yourself… because that is no fun.

There’s enough weirdness in the world today without trying to do something good for yourself and getting hurt in the process. 

I also want to mention that while I think it’s a great idea to see if we can improve our state of being during this quarantine, I am NOT a proponent of trying to make this stay at home time the MOST productive time ever! 

As far as I’m concerned you don’t need to write your biography, learn a new language, knit 20 sweaters or get 6-pack abs. 

My intention is to have people not take their bodies for granted. If you’re feeling good, I want you to keep feeling good. If you’re feeling crappy, I want to help you feel less crappy. Period. 

So here are some things to keep in mind when just starting or increasing the intensity level of an exercise program or increasing your activity level: 

  1. Start super easy
  2. Stay super easy
  3. Think months not days 
  4. Consistency, not intensity 
  5. Don’t stop

1. Start super easy. 

Start any new exercise or increase in activity intensity at a level that feels super duper easy (another one of my technical terms). If your brain says, “This isn’t possibly aggressive enough to do any good,” then you’ve nailed it. Don’t let that “athlete brain” talk you into “pushing it” or tell you you’re doing too little.

Just start with something you KNOW you can do without being super sore or risking any kind of injury. Not sure how much to do? Start with less than you think and see how it goes. 

2. Stay super easy. 

Now that you’ve started way easy… stay at that intensity for a week. Avoid the temptation to rapidly increase the intensity. Ease up on the urge to immediately go further, faster, harder, heavier, etc. Try to not let your ego tell you about what you “used to be able to do.” So try the new super easy activity or exercise, then wait at least 24 hours and see you your body reacts.

Sometimes it even takes 48 hours to feel the result of a new activity level. If you’re good the next day, great, go ahead and do the same intensity level again. But consider a day of rest in between to avoid overworking your body. Once you’ve done the new exercise for a week or so – on most days of that week -THEN you know that intensity is OK for you.  

Feeling some general muscle soreness in the areas you worked is fine, but it shouldn’t feel like sharp pain, pain that keeps you up at night, burning pain or lingering pain at rest – any of these means you did something your body didn’t like. In those cases back off, modify it or skip it altogether. 

If you’re already having some issues and not sure how to do this, let us help you with some physical therapy here in Santa Maria- it’s why we’re here.

3. Think months, not days. 

When we start working out, we want to get “in shape” fast. We do a new exercise and then that night we look in the mirror to see if there are any new muscles that have appeared (at least that’s what I’ve done!).

It takes weeks, if not months to build a foundation of strength, fitness and mobility, not days.

When we try to increase activity levels thinking days, we over do it and can get hurt. The goal with moving your body is to move it so it’s healthy for you now, and continues to be healthy for you for the long term. We want to be feeling awesome when we’re in our 90’s.

This is not based on how fast you can increase – give it time, and let go of “results” for now, those will happen naturally as you continue to move your body. 

4. Consistency, not intensity

Sensing a theme here? The secret of people in their 90’s that are kicking butt is NOT that they’ve worked out hard. It’s because they don’t stop moving. I’ve worked with these people for over 20 years and I always ask them their secrets. It’s simple. They move some part of their body, in some way, every day.

For some it’s old-school calisthenics, for some it’s walking, for some it’s stretching or yoga, for some it’s pool exercises.

They find something that agrees with them and that they at least like a little bit (hopefully more), and they do it like clockwork. Some days they do more, some days less. But it’s not about working out hard. They may build up to that, but the consistency is the important thing. And if you go out too hard, you get hurt – and then you have to stop moving, which messes up the whole consistency thing!

5. Don’t stop

Human bodies are not maintenance-free machines, and they need some (intelligent) movement to keep them tuned up and doing well.  

I was just talking to one of my patients, who was not typically very active, but has been really working on overcoming a severe problem.

He’s seen that to overcome it, he has to do some body movement daily. And he made the comment, slightly incredulously, that “It takes me about 45 minutes to get all these exercises done!” And I get it, if you’re not used to moving your body, it feels like a big investment of your time if your mindset is that this is extra, or somehow outside “normal.”

He mentioned that he sees other people able to “just get up and go” in the morning, and feels like there’s something wrong with him that he has to do all these exercises. You can look at other people, but we really have no idea what they’re doing.

What matters is what YOU need to do for YOUR body, and there are many of us out there that need to do “our exercises” to get going and keep going to live the lives we want.

If we say we want an “active lifestyle,” then we actually have to be active, and moving your body every day is what that means. Stagnancy is the enemy.

If we want all the systems of the body to keep moving – blood FLOW, nerve CONDUCTION, liver FUNCTION, etc. – we need to keep the body moving. Find something you like, do it regularly, repeat. 

So there you go, 5 things to start exercising without getting hurt – propelling yourself through and out of the quarantine and into the future, cultivating a lifestyle that YOU design and maintain. 

I know that was a lot of info, and I know sometimes it doesn’t feel as simple as these things, but do your best, don’t force and see how it goes. 

As always, if you need some help, or if you’re injured or having a body issue that’s STOPPING you from doing what you want your body to do, that’s what we do and we’re happy to help any way we can!

Reach out with an email (click HERE)… or to inquire about a free telephone consultation click HERE – no obligation, just information. Or we’d love it if you gave us a call directly (805) 934-0663 – don’t wait, more time usually doesn’t help. 

Here’s the video I mentioned, “How To Make Quarantine Work For You, Not Against You.”

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