Why we see more injuries in February – Set SMART goals! 6 Jan 2020
Over the last few years, we continue to see more sport-related injuries in February than in other months and this isn’t just due to the ski season.
The primary reason is people starting their new exercise regime in January and going too quickly, too much and too soon. This leads to training and overloading on tired and weak muscles and tendons and subsequent breakdown of these structures to cause tendinitis, muscle strains and other overuse injuries. You can prevent this by setting SMART goals:
Make your goals specific. Losing weight or getting fitter is not specific. Losing 6 pounds is specific, being able to complete 5km or being able to walk up to Parliament hill without stopping to catch your breath is specific. Making goals specific is a motivation factor. Hitting them is a milestone that you can see and gives you the knowledge you haven’t done all this work for nothing. 6 weeks into a training program we have often forgotten what we were like before.
Make the goal so you can measure the changes. With weight loss it’s relatively easy as you have a marker when you stand on the scale. But do this weekly, not daily and try to do it at the same time every day as our weight changes through a 24-hour cycle. With other measurements like running, you could run 10km an hour for 1-minute intervals. Start with just 2 intervals and then increase these over the weeks or time how long you rest between intervals or walk/run intervals in the park. With cycling it maybe maintaining a certain cadence or output (watts) on your ride or interval splits. Strength goals could be how long you hold a plank to the number of reps you can lift a certain weight.
My best time for a half marathon is 1hr 49. Creating a goal of doing this in 1hr 10, for me would be unachievable. I could train and train and never get close to knocking 39 minutes off my time. Achievable goals should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. Setting a goal of sub 1 hour 45 is more realistic. Once this has been achieved I could look at how hard this was to achieve in my life and with it as a priority an whether I could improve further on this
Realistic / Relevant
If you are 5ft, 50 with a bad knee, setting a goal of playing in the NBA, this is unrealistic. Likewise being a 6ft 8 jockey is unrealistic. Sometimes our body size and age are factors to a goal being realistic. Sometimes it may be our work or family life that don’t allow us to set realistic goals; attend the gym 5 days a week. Look at your schedule, find times in it that is realistic for you. Meeting 2 gym sessions a week for 16 weeks is far better than 5 a week for 3 weeks and is more likely to then become a habit and part of your routine.
Often this section of SMART goals can also be ‘Relevant’. Is the goal relevant for you? Is it your goal or somebody else’ goal, is it the right time to attempt this goal and is it a priority in your life at this moment in time. All this determines how well you will stick to this goal.
Set a time for your goal. For example to be able to run 5 km without stopping in 8 weeks or to lose 6 pounds by 4 weeks. Setting a time limit allows you to review the goal and change it or progress it when needed. It stops you getting demotivated by changing the goalposts. For example, if you set to lose 6 pounds in 4 weeks and you lost 4 then forget that goal and say right over the next 4 weeks I will lose another 4 pounds. don’t beat yourself up, life is too short. Just move forward.
A poor goal: To lose weight, To run faster
A SMART goal; To lose 6 pounds in 4 weeks, To run 5km in under 35 minutes by April the 1st
As Rudyard Kipling said in the poem ‘ If ‘
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
Don’t think about your goal every day, it will become your master and you will likely not master it. Instead, do something little towards it every day and forget about. If it is to run faster; one day have a hot bath and massage (as recovery) or eat a healthy meal for lunch. Doing something little every day is not necessarily directly working on the goal. When it does or doesn’t work out, look at why, be rational and analytical not emotional and change it up. It’s a process. embrace and enjoy it.
Happy New Year from all the staff at West Hampstead Physiotherapy!