How Much Is Too Much?

by Leah Forestall

Have you ever thought about how your exercise frequency and intensity may be impacting how your body feels? Maybe not! We often pick up new things (especially as the seasons change) and don’t think twice about it. However, how we manage our change in movement is very important for injury risk reduction.

Often we see injuries in the clinic that don’t have a mechanism of injury (e.g. a fall, an accident, etc). Usually for these people there is a load error at play. AKA doing too much too quickly or too many new things all at once. This can be anything from shoveling all weekend after having not picked up a shovel in 9 months to increasing your running from 0 km a week to 15 km a week.

Our body often needs time to adapt and adjust to changes in the demands we put through it. Think of when you first get in a hot bath – our body often feels shocked at the temperature but after a moment or two we adapt and get used to it. This is similar to exercise, sport, and activity. If we give ourselves enough time, with appropriate exposure, our tissues can often build up the strength and resilience they need for us to avoid an overuse or acute injury!

Here are a few tips on how to reduce your injury risk when starting a new movement or activity:

  1. Start low and go slow – It’s easier to start with less and add more as you feel you can handle your new desired activities. If you feel soreness after your new movement, this is normal. But if the soreness persists beyond 2 days post exercise that may have been too much. Next time, try a bit less (a shorter workout, less weight).
  2. Follow the 10% rule – An easy rule of thumb is to think of increasing your load by ~ 10% each week. For example, if you are starting weight lifting or running, increase the weight of your bench press or run mileage by ~10% each week.
  3. Give yourself break days – When starting new activities it’s important to give yourself rest and recovery days. Think of scheduling a day or two off after the day you do your new activity. As you start to get used to your new movements you can increase your weekly frequency.
  4. Keep it spicy – Despite starting a new activity ensure you keep your movements and activities spiced up and not all the same. Variety in your movements will help you avoid overuse injuries!

Leah ForrestallLeah Forrestall

BSc Kin, MSc PT Pelvic Health Therapist
Book an assessment with Leah at Synergy Sports Medicine, East End (2017 Danforth Avenue)


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