You have been so consistent with your exercise program. You have been sticking to your goals and maybe even exceeding them a little bit. But whether you are new to an exercise routine or a seasoned veteran, everyone experiences setbacks at some point or another. However, as you approach your exercise routine and then the subsequent setbacks, you can have a plan in place for how to approach each situation that will make you more successful and help you to bounce back in full force.
First, let’s go over the common setbacks that lead to feelings of discouragement, frustration and can ultimately lead to disruption in your fitness routine. Identifying the things that could be considered a setback can then help us to set up the aforementioned game plan. Common setbacks include, but are not limited to:
- Unmet expectations
- Holidays, birthdays, and other festive celebrations
- Either an unexpected or expected change in your daily routine
As we continue to exercise and challenge ourselves, achiness and soreness are signs that tell us we have pushed our bodies to a new level and we are getting stronger. However, pain is different than soreness and can be indicative of an injury. Eight common workout injuries include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Back Pain
- Twisted Ankles
- Shoulder Pain
- Shin Splints
- Swollen Knees
- Neck Pain
- Plantar Fasciitis
Because injuries are inevitable when participating in physical activity, it is important to know how best to prevent and then treat them. This will help you to avoid an injury setback and help you to come back from an injury more quickly.
First and foremost, it is necessary to have the proper equipment for your chosen activity. Having the correct equipment will help you to stay safe and protect your body as you exercise. Among the most common pieces of equipment are shoes. Make sure you replace your exercise shoes regularly in order to provide your body with proper support and to prevent injury. Next, be sure to vary your fitness routine, including changing up the activities in which you are participating. By switching up your exercises, you will be better able to avoid overuse injuries that come from using one part of your body in a repetitive fashion, such as running.
One important factor to keep in mind is to remember to take a rest days. Rest days are just as important as exercise days. Your body needs time to recover from the strain of exercise in order to make itself stronger.
Finally, know your limits. If you need an extra rest day, take it. If you have a hard workout planned but need to do something easier, do it. Pushing our bodies too far is a sure way to get injured.
If you do find yourself injured, the first thing to do is apply the R.I.C.E. principle: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
- Rest the injured area or take a complete rest day to recover. You do not necessarily have to stop exercise altogether but find other activities to participate in that do not require use of the injured area.
- Ice the injured area for 20 minutes at time, as needed.
- For compression, wrap the injured or sore area with elastic bandaging to help decrease swelling.
- Finally, elevate the injured area to increase the venous return of blood and reduce swelling.
If you find you have an injury that is not recovering, it would be wise to check with a doctor, such as an orthopedic specialist, for help treating the injury.
One of the most powerful causes of setbacks can be the image in our heads of how the exercise will affect us and the results we expect to see. It is not uncommon for progress to be slower than we would like or simply different than we were expecting, leading to feelings of frustration.
If you are looking to lose weight, remember that a healthy rate of weight loss is a half pound to two pounds per week. By slowly losing the weight with healthy habits, you are more likely to retain the weight loss in the long run. If you have been exercising and notice the weight seems to have gone up rather than down, remember that muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue. When we are changing our body composition (reducing fat and increasing muscle), better ways to gage our progress would be how we look, how we feel, and how our clothes are fitting. If the answers to those questions are thinner, more energetic, and looser, you are heading in the right direction.
Have a Plan
When it comes to holidays, vacations, and other changes in your normal routine, you should have a plan in place to help you stay on track and avoid setbacks:
- How will you maintain your exercise routine during this time?
- Are you ok doing different activities or spending less time exercising, with the knowledge that you will soon be able to go back to your old routine?
- What will you do to stay motivated?
So whether you are a stay at home parent with kids home on summer vacation or you are heading on a trip to a tropical location, having a plan will help you to maintain your activity level as much as possible. Be aware there will be times when it will not be possible to keep up your routine, such as after surgery or during a family emergency. During these times, it is ok to let go for little bit and give your attention to the most important task at hand.
Exercise setbacks happen for a variety of reasons but they don’t have to be permanent. With a little extra knowledge and planning, you will be able to reduce the frequency and length of your setback, so you can keep your body healthy and moving for years to come.