New Year, New Decade, New Beginnings! Many people are more determined than ever before to finally tackle the health goals they’ve been putting off for the past decade.

Doctors and physical therapists say they often see patients during the early part of the year with injuries—some of them serious—stemming from New Year’s resolutions.

Capital Ortho’s experts Dr. Chris Kneip and Dr. Chad Hosemann, both board-certified sports medicine fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and Jonathan Thomas, PT were happy to offer their suggestions for resolution success in the new year.

Whether you’re determined to get in shape, lose weight, or train for a marathon, here are a few tips to keep you healthy and avoid burnout and injury.

Ease into it!

Dr. Kneip says it’s important to spend at least one full month easing into whatever form of exercise you are attempting. “This will help set you up for long-term success. It’s important to give your body time to adapt. Sprains, joint inflammation, and other overuse injuries are some of the most common problems we see among resolution-makers.”

“People tend to get very excited when they make their resolutions,” said Jonathan Thomas, Physical Therapy director at Capital Ortho. “But going from zero to 60 in a workout regimen can set you up for a lot of problems.”

Dr. Hosemann added, “There needs to be a breaking in period to focus on slowly working your way back up to your previous distance, etc. A lot of people get tendinitis early on, such as in a couch to 5k scenario.”

Know the difference in pain and soreness

“Usually the problems begin when people take the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ literally. They think if they just work through it, it will go away. But doing so can lead to complications and chronic conditions that take more than a few weeks’ rest to treat,” said Thomas.

“After a new or tough workout, it’s common to feel muscle soreness within 48 hours,” said Kneip. “Feeling pain sooner, or in the joint rather than the muscles, is a sign that something isn’t right. If that happens, the acronym RICE—rest, ice, compression and elevation—is a good rule to follow. If it doesn’t get better in a few days, then I would definitely recommend seeing your doctor.”

 

Switch it up

Oftentimes when beginning a new workout program, it’s tempting to pour all your time and energy into that one activity. If you’re running (or doing any activity) multiple times a week, you need to give your muscles time to rest and repair themselves by incorporating other activities.

Hosemann stresses the importance of cross training. “Try to have a different exercise each day that works different body parts. If you’re training for a race, be sure to spend time lifting weights, on the elliptical, or the bike. You shouldn’t spend every day on the treadmill only. This lessens the risk of overuse injuries and is what will ultimately make you stronger and more successful in the long run.”

Healthy Food Choices are Important

It’s said that you can’t out-train a bad diet. This is true when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle over time. “Eat a healthy, balanced diet,” Hosemann said. “As we age, maintaining overall health and wellness becomes more about our diet and a little less about exercise, so focus on a healthy diet just as much as exercise.”

Don’t become a statistic this year by quitting on your goals before you reach them! Try to take your focus off the short term and incorporate healthier decisions into your everyday life. By following these simple recommendations, you can be sure to set yourself up for a healthier and happier new year!

Capital Ortho, established in 1990, is a full-service, comprehensive orthopedic practice with nine board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic specialists. They are located in Flowood and Madison, and operate satellite clinics in Forest, Hazlehurst, Kosciusko, and Magee.

 

[Originally published in Mississippi Christian Living Magazine.]