Slow and steady best: fitness expert

Easy does it . . . When beginning exercise, it is important not too do too much too soon, says an exercise consultant. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

If you are starting to tone up already for next summer, make sure you start slow and low and take your time.

Accident Compensation Corporation statistics reveal fitness training/gym is one of the top five sports in which Dunedin residents injured themselves last year.

It was second after rugby and was followed by football, netball and basketball.

The total cost of claims for fitness training/gym injuries last year was $633,677.

Rugby injuries cost $1,504,470 and football cost $511,165.

Exercise, strength and conditioning consultant Dr Phil Handcock said injuries could be caused by people starting exercise with unrealistic expectations about what they might achieve in a short time.

“This is often fuelled by media representations of elite athletes and celebrities pushing themselves really hard and dramatically changing their bodies,” he said.

The most common type of injury was soft tissue, which could include bruises, strains and sprains.

There were 1536 injuries of this type last year and 1680 in 2016.

Dr Handcock said soft-tissue injuries were generally injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Ligaments were usually injured because of a trauma like a slip or stumble, whereas muscles and tendons were injured when they were loaded beyond what they could tolerate, he said.

“So this might be someone trying to do something explosive like jump or sprint or it might be through repetition like running or skipping for five minutes.

“I suspect we would see more overuse injuries with gyms, except that many people drop out before their injuries progress to a point where they become problematic.”

Exercising too hard, for too long and too often was a big factor in getting injured, he said.

“When we are fatigued (both acutely within a session and chronically over a period of days/weeks) we tend to have poor body control, exhibit poor technique and therefore stress and load goes on to certain body parts.”

To avoid injury, people should start low and progress slowly.

“Don’t try to do what you see on TV in your first session.”

It was important to spend time building a fitness base, warm up, have adequate rest and recovery and learn to pay attention to what your body was telling you, he said.

“Get sound advice – make sure your fitness instructor understands your starting point and spends time building up your base fitness.”



Dunedin 2017 Number Cost

Rugby: 2412 $1,504,470

Fitness training/gym:1617 $633,677

Football: 1291 $511,165

Netball: 794 $409,163

Basketball: 757 $284,326