Dr Matthew Jackson is a lecturer in Sport and Health Science at Liverpool Hope University
Watch your ‘load’
Dr Jackson said: ‘There’s a well established general rule that you shouldn’t increase your training load by more than 10 per cent each week. That could be in terms of miles run, or the number of minutes spent doing something. And by going above that 10 per cent, you increase the likelihood of becoming injured.
‘If it’s a new routine you’re getting into, start with two or three sessions per week and make sure you stick with the 10 percent rule.’
Frequency, intensity, time and type
Always bear in mind the interplay between frequency, intensity, time spent and type of exercise. Dr Jackson explained: ‘You want all of these elements in a training programme to try and get fitter and develop. But you only want to work on those elements one at a time.
‘If you’re starting a new regime, you might want to do an extra session one week, but don’t make that session harder as well. You might want to have the same amount of sessions per week, but on one of those sessions you could go a little bit harder. And remember that 80-90 per cent of the exercise you’re doing should be moderate, as opposed to high intensity.’
The most common sorts of injuries you might pick up are muscular stains, joint issues and tendonitis – which is a painful inflammation of a tendon usually triggered by overuse.
Dr Jackson revealed: ‘People pick up tendonitis quite regularly when they’ve increased their training. And it can be pretty debilitating, sometimes even needing surgery to remove the damaged tissue.
‘Look out for pain around the knee, hips, elbows, ankles and shoulder in particular. So if you’re thinking about going running every day, you need to be sensible.’
Dr Jackson warned: ‘If you’re throwing yourself into a new running regime, beware issues with the achilles tendon and also plantar fasciitis, a searing pain on the underside of the foot and which often rears its head when people start doing more walking or running, when they start exercising on hard surfaces for the first time, or if they wear shoes without proper support.’
Target the glutes
Moderating your exercise regime could also ward off Iliotibial band syndrome, or ITBS. Dr Jackson says: ‘This is really common among runners starting a new routine. There’s a long tendon that stretches from the outside of the hip all the way down to the outside of the knee.
‘If you strain it, pain will be concentrated around the outside edge of the knee, where the tendon is rubbing over the bone. That’s usually down to a weakness in the glute muscles. So it’s prevalent among people who might typically spend a lot of time sitting down.
‘The glute muscles – the hip extensor and hip abductor – can experience atrophy. And if they’re weaker, you’re more likely to pick up ITBS. People simply aren’t aware of the atrophy until they start to exercise properly.’
Remember that DIY is exercise, too
Dr Jackson said: ‘If you’ve thrown yourself into a DIY project, you need to be careful about repetitive strain injuries, too! You might spend the whole weekend decorating, and then find yourself with tennis elbow a few days later.
‘It’s usually down to an imbalance of the flexor and extensor muscles, which work in pairs. If you do a particularly repetitive activity where you’re just using the one set of muscles, you’re pulling the tendon over those bones and it’s rubbing all the time. That’s what causes the inflammation – and it can be really painful.’
Moderate home workouts
‘You’re not immune to injury if you’re doing home workouts in front of a screen either – as squats performed with inadequate technique can cause lower back or knee pain,’ Dr Jackson pointed out.
‘Again, it’s about moderation, if you are new to exercise, I’d be wary of doing a home workout every day. By including sufficient rest, you are more likely to make consistent progress and achieve your long term goals.’