by Dr. Flynn Pettersson – B. Chiro. Sc, M. Chiro

The New Year is almost upon us and, like many Australians, I’m starting to think about what I want to achieve in 2018. Come January and February every year, I usually see a large influx of new patients – most struggling with injuries brought about by a new year’s resolution of ‘getting fit,’ without the proper preparation and management. The good news is, that by working with your Chiropractor, the vast majority of these issues can be prevented. Here are 5 simple ways to make sure that you achieve your fitness goals in 2018.

1. Set Appropriate goals

If you’ve spent the last few months, years, or even decades letting yourself go, and want to make a change – that’s great! You can always improve, no matter what challenges you might face. It’s important, however, to set goals that are reasonable and achievable. Bodies are incredibly good at adapting to whatever they do most. If you haven’t been exercising a whole lot recently, don’t expect it to adapt right away.

Rather than saying, ‘I want to run a marathon and be able to do 100 push-ups by this time next year,’ try to set goals that are smaller and incremental. When the stark realisation hits you, 200m in to your first run on January 2nd and you’re already sweaty and breathless, that your lofty ambitions seem too far away and perhaps impossible, chances are you’ll push yourself too hard too fast and injure yourself, or simply quit. Be smarter. Start slower.

Instead, you might say, ‘I want to walk/run 3 times a week and do 20 push-ups a day.’ If you keep up these smaller, more manageable goals, you’ll improve and develop consistently to reach those bigger goals.

Your body didn’t get the way it is overnight, it’s not going to suddenly change overnight either. Be persistent. Be consistent.

2. Improve your mobility

Days spent largely in one position, whether that be sitting at a desk or standing long hours on your feet, lead to strain and fatigue in various parts of your body. We seem to spend more and more of our leisure undertaking sedentary endeavours, too. This modern lifestyle has led to a remarkable decrease in the flexibility and mobility of joints in an enormous number of people.

Working with a Chiropractor to improve this mobility, usually in the hips, shoulders and mid back, will go a long way to making exercise easier, more enjoyable and less likely to lead to injury. Everyone has their own unique injury history and specific dysfunction patterns, so don’t follow blanket advice that is not individually tailored. Get a proper assessment and routine that will work for you.

3. Get advice on the correct form

Most exercises involve a combination of strength, mobility, balance, and technique. Following on from the previous point – if your mobility is lacking you’ll likely be unable to perform a lot of exercises correctly. These issues can affect all activities from running, to heavy weightlifting, to advanced yoga poses.

Aside from mobility, however, proper form is something that has to be practiced and worked on. Imagine you’ve never played tennis before, and you’re trying to learn how to serve. It’s a complex movement involving the interplay of all of the joints and muscles in your body working in a set pattern requiring perfect timing to hit a small ball at a precise angle. It’s difficult. Any new exercise has these challenges to some extent, even if they might appear simple to a novice.

4. Optimise your recovery

Whenever you begin a new exercise program, there is going to be some pain. The most common is something called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. This is a perfectly normal reaction that your body has when being challenged in a new way. You’ll feel tight and tense in the affected areas for a day or two, and things will gradually improve over the course of about 4 or 5 days maximum. Getting an adjustment and a massage will help speed up this process.

The key to making your recovery as seamless as possible is proper planning. Adequate hydration, nutrition and sleep are all absolutely essential. Make sure that you’re prioritizing these key elements, not just expecting it all to somehow come together. The exercise is what challenges your body, but it’s your recovery that primarily determines just how fast you improve.

5. Prevent injuries before they happen

There comes a time in all our lives when we start to exhibit signs of degeneration in our joints. The truth is that this is perfectly normal, and can usually be managed well with exercise and activity modification, as well as regular adjustments. But, if you’ve had any sort of significant injury to a joint – you’re going to have scar tissue and damage to the joint surface. This will usually lead to increased degeneration in that joint, requiring more frequent management. There isn’t really a cure for this. The best method is prevention.

As mentioned above, having a little pain and stiffness after exercise is normal. But, for chronic pain, there’s so much more happening under the surface. Pain is never the first problem to arise – it’s just the one that motivates people to get help. To prevent significant injury and pain, the best method is detecting these smaller dysfunctions and correcting them while they’re relatively minor. Preventing injuries before they happen will always be easier, cheaper and save you a whole lot of pain in the long run.

With any new year comes new opportunities and new challenges. Come in and see your Chiropractor to discuss how to make 2018 your best yet. From myself, and everyone at Beingwell, we wish you a happy, enjoyable, and safe Christmas and New Year.

Image sourced via Pintrest