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Contact Me:
Tripti Gyan MCSP HCPC Reg
Chartered and State Registered Physiotherapist
Nottingham YMCA Health and Fitness
4 Shakespeare Street
Nottingham
NG1 4FG (map)

Tel: 07866 464 385 (Within the UK)
Tel: +44 (0) 7866 464 385(Outside the UK)

Email: tripti@triptigyan.com

Pacing: The key to keeping fit through realistic targets

For the amateur athlete, a career on the pitch, track or court can span as much as 40 years. From school age to the onset of senior citizenship, the demands of daily life can change dramatically over time - as can the ability to bounce back and feel fresh after a tough match, race or gym session.

For those of us with busy careers and families, balancing responsibilities with recreational time can be challenging. So it is no surprise that, as we get older, we find less time to work on conditioning or performing stretching exercises.

Pacing ourselves reduces the injury risk

It is because of our demanding schedules, that many of us go from long periods in static positions - sat behind a desk, for example - straight into intensive exercise sessions. Something which recent thinking suggests is more than likely to lead to physical injuries.

In the short term, jolting the body into action after a day in front of the computer can be no bad thing, but over a sustained period of months and even years, failing to ease ourselves into exercise by not preparing properly is more likely to lead to pain and frustration for the recreational athlete.

Exercise like the professionals

No matter what level of sport we play, it is always worth taking a leaf out of a professional athlete's book in conditioning our bodies. In terms of injury prevention and rehabilitation, there is very little difference between the advice given to professional and recreational athletes - after all, no one wants to end up facing an injury lay off.

At TG Physiotherapy Care we advise sportspeople of all ages and abilities that the key to improving performance lies in setting realistic targets, identifying intelligent performance strategies and putting in the necessary preparation time both before and after rigorous exercise.

Here are some points to consider:

When you set a goal, preparation and planning are essential to move you toward something you want

Setting reasonable goals within a particular timeframe very much depends on what you have done before, and what your foundation base is in terms of fitness. Break down what you need to achieve and by when. Regardless of whether you play sport for a living or for fun, the individuals who plan well are the ones who will enjoy training the most, and the least likely to get injured.

Ask yourself:

1) What is your end goal?
2) What is your starting point (current fitness level)?
3) Have you got enough time to prepare your body to be able to take part in an event?

Monitor your progress like an athlete

We are all different. Expect to have good days and bad days. Even elite athletes sometimes wonder 'Why did that run or session feel so bad?' Professional sportspeople often keep a diary of how much they eat, sleep and exercise in order to monitor variables such as volume, intensity, distance and recovery efficiency. It is this awareness of progress and potential pitfalls that enables the intelligent athlete to achieve their goals.

An added benefit of this approach is that it does not just enhance the physical aspects of performance, but also acts as a source of motivation and psychological improvement.

Exercise is a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive

In short, this means that the gradual progression of physical fitness is something that must be built over time. The more energy we expend, the more our body is forced to adapt and become more efficient. And the more we become accustomed to exercise the faster our body becomes able to recover. But overexert or fail to allow suitable rest time and the body will quickly start to fatigue.

Never underestimate the importance of rest, especially if working full time in addition to intensive training.

Give the body what it needs

Hand in hand with rest comes nutrition and hydration. To get what you want out of exercise requires you to put in the right fuel. A balanced diet and appropriate hydration helps you to improve both the performance of your muscles, lungs and heart, as well as resist future injury.

Try not to change everything at once

The things you can control and vary in your workouts are load, quantity and intensity. You can also change the environment or terrain in which you train. For example, if you are training for a big run or competition, it is important to be mindful of when you implement transitions such as speed, distance and intensity. Change one thing at a time, monitor when you are going to add each component and your body's response.

Stick to your plan and maintain your momentum

The better planned and prepared you are, the more successful you will be at persisting with your exercise regime. There is no reason to make things more difficult for yourself and risk losing all the progress you have made. For people who are new to exercise, a common mistake is to try to do too much too soon. Remember that even the elite athletes had to start their training from scratch at some point.

Listen to your body

As recreational athletes we push our bodies to the limit but fail to give those very same muscles and joints the recovery processes they need to continue to perform at high levels over a long period of time.

Never ignore those little niggles. Over time they are likely to worsen and have a far greater impact on your performance than if you rest and treat the problem at source. Seek advice from a physiotherapist if you are feeling pain, discomfort or experience undue muscle fatigue - which is often a sign of over-training.

Do the prep work at your desk

Many of us are in sedentary jobs and/or drive for long distances which means sitting for a large proportion of the day. Be mindful about posture, form and movement during the day. Keeping active little and often means that your body will be better able to adjust between the extremes of static positions and demanding workouts.

Balance your training

No matter what your chosen sport is, it is important to balance strength with flexibility. It is good to do a variety of activities so that you your body gets used to adapting. You can be going to the gym and be lifting weights but also maintaining your flexibility at the same time.

Good luck in meeting your goals!

Call us now at our Nottingham Physiotherapy Practice on 07866 464 385 or email us at tripti@triptigyan.com