One: Too much load can lead to injury
Not sleeping, not being able to rest and managing lots of stress are all extra loads on our system. Being emotionally out of balance, having poor nutrition and feeling isolated are all extra loads.
The more load we are carrying the more likely we are to experience pain and/ or get injured. Try to avoid too much load, too soon.
When people are training they often are very focused on the mechanical loads in the exercise. This is only part of the picture. There are many loads that may be contributing to your stress and sensitivity levels and your body needs to adapt to them all.
Two: Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving
The science is very clear; we work better when we keep moving. To stay happy, healthy and mentally sharp, exercise is the best drug.
The minimum dose for exercise is surprisingly low. A little bit of walking or running up stairs is a good start and goes a long way.
Too much rest can be as detrimental as too much load. We quickly lose capacity if we stop moving.
Three: Humans adapt
We like variety. If a certain movement is not working for you try something different, sometimes that is all that is needed.
We need stress to grow. Not too much stress, but if we get the balance right, we can quickly get stronger when we try new things.
The paralympians are a source of constant inspiration about how we can adapt and do amazing things.
Four: Challenge and recover
Getting the balance of challenge and recovery is the key to getting well.
Go slowly and use the principle of ‘graded exposure’ to help you not do too much, too soon. Do a little bit more than you did last time, but not too much more.
Expect some discomfort and pain as you try new things. A good rule of thumb is that if the discomfort or intensity is more than 5 out of 10 after 48 hours, you have done too much.
Your protective alarm systems are kicking in. It is incredibly unlikely you have damaged yourself, but you do need to go more slowly to build your resilience. Keep exercising but reduce the amount so that you feel safe.
Five: Play more
Most people approach exercise as work. Todd Hargrove (2019) has written an excellent book reminding us that being playful is the key to learning and changing. There are so many ways you can play with movement.
The best exercise is the exercise you going to do. Make it fun. When was the last time you danced or crawled or rolled around on the floor or spent some time hanging from a tree branch?
- BMJ (2016) Change training gradually. Some good images and debate about balance between training load and your capacity to handle that load
- Hargrove T (2019) Playing with Movement. Better Movement Publishing.
- Maggs K (2020) Load vs Capacity and Injuries. British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM)
- Miera E (2016) Just Load It. Article by Nils Oudhuis. Excellent blog on making things strong again by challenging them – ‘just load it’
- La fisioterapia.net (2017) 10 facts about exercise and back pain. Great primer video on evidence for why exercises helps pain
- Vancouver Sun (2018) Is prolonged rest best for an acute injury or musculoskeletal problem? No, it’s actually harmful. Accessed 2018-02-11