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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Injury shouldn’t be enough to hold you back

Our regular columnist, Stephen Smith, from Merewether Fitness Studio, speaks about how doing nothing causes him the most grief, rather than the occasional pain and discomfort that stems from numerous injuries.

With spring upon us, I know many of you are thinking that it’s time to get a bit fitter and a bit healthier but maybe don’t know where to start, or perhaps you are held back by injury?

One of the main reasons many people avoid exercise is injury or non-specific chronic pain at various locations in the body, especially the lower back, knees and shoulders.

In fact, the Medical Journal of Australia suggests that up to 80% of Australians will experience back pain at some point in their lives and 10% will experience significant disability as a result.

Looking at these statistics, if everyone with some form of back pain avoided exercise then the gyms of Australia would be empty, but they are far from it.

So, this week I would like to offer some tips on exercising with injuries.

Talk to your doctor and get clearance. Your GP may also suggest a facility or a type of exercise best suited to your particular limitations or medical conditions.

Begin with a one-on-one or small group session where you will be closely supervised.

Owner and Head Trainer at Merewether Fitness Studio, Stephen Smith.

Choose an experienced exercise professional and preferably one that comes recommended. I believe that, in Newcastle, word of mouth is still the best form of advertisement.

A Personal Trainers role is not to diagnose your injuries. The right trainer will refer you on to a physiotherapist if they think it’s necessary.

The majority of exercises can be modified so you can continue to train while avoiding pain.

Sometimes a little pain is required in order to strengthen the muscles around the joint that may be giving you trouble. This is where you, as the client, need to: 1. Have faith in your trainer; and 2: Practice good self-body awareness and recognise the difference between good pain and bad pain.

Communicate with your trainer and don’t be afraid to speak up if something does not feel right.

Nearly all scientific data shows that using exercise as an intervention can significantly reduce lower back pain along with other injuries. I am living proof of this.

At 53, I have some significant injuries: a ruptured disk in my lower back, a bulging disk in my neck, bursitis in both shoulders.

My left knee has virtually no cartilage and is riddled with arthritis. Despite these challenges, I am fit and healthy and do some form of exercise most days of the week such as weights, surfing, riding my bike, and the occasional game of tennis.

Yes, occasionally there is pain and discomfort, but do you know what gives me the most grief? Doing nothing.

So, if you are looking to get back into some exercise but are carrying an injury, don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can.

Until next time,

Health & Happiness,

Stephen

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