As we get older staying injury free becomes a priority, so managing our ageing bodies as we hit the gym is key to successfully reaching our fitness goals.
We can often forget to listen to our bodies. As mature women seeking to re-gain our fitness we push on regardless…like we did in our 20’s.
I know how hard it is to resist that temptation, especially if we presume it will speed up the whole fitness process.
But the reality is, we are no longer 20…wish as we might…and our bodies just don’t work the way they used to. Much to our disgust.
And if we are not careful, we will find ourselves on the slow road to recovery rather than forging ahead with our fitness.
Don’t fall into the same trap that I did. Learn from my lack of judgement and you’ll reap the rewards.
To help you keep moving forward I have put together a few simple tips that should keep you safe and out of the Dr’s clinic.
Don’t ignore your existing injuries, aches and pains.
Now, I can’t blame anyone but myself for my setback. I had a pre-existing neck & shoulder twinge, which I have had for many years. Thanks to my natural tendency to miss treat my body and push on regardless.
So, through my impatience, and desperate need to get fit fast, I tried to do things I was not ready for and the consequences were severe bursitis and tendinitis. Lesson learned.
This could have been avoided. And you can avoid it too. Here’s how.
Leave your ego at the door.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves with others at the gym, no matter how hard we try to focus on our own goals. Especially if you have a competitive nature…and there’s nothing wrong with that :D. Just be aware of it and try to control it…for now at least.
Just remember your goal is your goal. No one else’s. So it doesn’t matter if your six pack doesn’t show yet. Or you can’t do any toes 2 bar. Technique and form must come before anything else.
Your health and safety comes before your need to show your skills off to the world. Be patient, it’s worth it.
Inevitably when we make comparisons we go too hard to fast and end up like me…having to do everything one armed, or not at all.
Don’t let your ego get the best of you. Or you’ll wind up on the side lines watching all your hard work drift away.
If you work slowly to improve your techniques, form, strength & flexibility, your range of motion will increase and before you know it you’ll be working on those cool moves you’ve been hanging out to try. Without injury.
Warm up and cool down properly
Two things necessary for optimum performance for any athlete, but especially mature age ‘athletes’, is Flexibility and good recovery practices. If you are not flexible you will inhibit movement and risk injury.
If you don’t take care of your recovery you will be sore and stiff for days.
Good nutrition is also vital but that is a topic for another conversation. Just note that taking good quality supplement during training and before bed everyday will dramatically improve your muscle recovery.
Warm up & Stretch:
Just be sure to warm up before you stretch. An easy way to do this is to jump on a stationary bike for about 5 minutes at a moderate pace. Then start your stretching and dynamic warm up activities.
Warming up before exercise will help get the joints moving and blood circulating, making it safe to stretch out those tight muscles. Warming down will help minimise that 48 hour post workout tightness we are all familiar with.
And don’t rush your warm up. Get to the gym early and take the time (even if it’s 30 to 40 mins) to really get your body ready.
All you need is a yoga mat and some comfy clothes and you’re on your way. Anywhere, anytime, it’s a great way to get fit and flexible.
Not only is Yoga great for flexibility, it is excellent for strength & conditioning, especially your core strength. Something we tend to lose as we get out of shape. There are hundreds, if not more, yoga apps available for your mobile device, so you don’t need to spend more money going to classes.
Get yourself a basic yoga app, there are hundreds to choose from. Go with the free options until you find one you like. Then upgrade if you want.
Once you have some yoga moves under your belt you can incorporate them into you pre & post workout stretching.
Lululemon have exceptional clothing and accessories designed for yoga and fitness.
Physio is not just for post injury.
Your physio can help you with preventative exercises designed to strengthen or improve flexibility in joints using resistance bands or other area specific exercises, which will assist you in such things as joint strength & mobility.
Range of motion and mobility are directly related to your flexibility and strength. If your flexibility is compromised so too will be your ability to perform certain fitness activities meaning, you are likely to get hurt if you push too hard too soon.
Grab yourself a foam roller and use it daily. Use it before exercise, after exercise and on your off days to really work the knots out of your muscles.
If you suffer from shin splints, I can recommend rolling out your shins pre & post running or skipping sessions as a way to minimise pain.
It will hurt like hell when you find a trigger point, but it will make all the difference to your recovery and preparation for your next session.
My favourite is the hand held rolling pin style roller. The muscletrac roller is excellent for getting to those difficult areas, and you can use it any where, even while watching the TV. 😀
Scale everything down
Put simply, scaling is reducing your reps &/or weights according to you capability but not reducing your intensity.
You want to get the most out of your workout. So, always work toward keeping your intensity high. Reducing the weight or rep scheme will help you get through the workout safely, but still get all the benefits.
Don’t be embarrassed to be the only one out there with no weight on your bar, or doing the least reps or going slower than everyone else. Scale your workouts for as long as necessary and remember it’s not a race or a competition. It’t your health and fitness.
Because you are taking your time you will benefit by developing good technique. Having great technique will not only make your workouts feel easier, it will aid in preventing injury. Which is what we all want…aside from kick ass abs.
Do skill specific drills
Drills improve technique. Technique is king. And especially important when trying to master certain lifts and gymnastic movements. Whether you go to a regular gym or a Crossfit gym there are skills that require good technique in order to perform the task safely and efficiently.
Take weight lifting. A skill that is done at just about every kind of gym. If you try to do a snatch with heavy weight and without good technique you will injure yourself. Maybe not right away, but it will happen.
Drills help build you up slowly to your end goal. They build on strength, control and technique. They are essential to optimising your performance and being efficient and safe in your execution.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Working out should be hard but it should be fun. If you take yourself too seriously and forget to be happy about your small achievements your sessions will become a chore for you and everyone else around you.
So in the words of a great Crossfit athlete Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet…”Share the Happy”. Enjoy your workout. Be proud of your efforts and achievements and remember to support those around you too.