Does this sound like you? After downloading a new workout program or watching a couch-to-5k success story on YouTube, you decide to up your fitness game – and actually stick with it this time.
You change your phone lock screen to a motivational quote, lace up your running shoes, and jump on the exercise bandwagon with gusto... only to fall off shortly after, landing you back at square one.
Why is it so difficult to start (and stick with) an exercise routine? According to Alex Chow, a Physiotherapist at HealthOne, there are a lot of reasons why. And if you’ve landed on this blog, you’ll probably identify with at least one of them.
“Exercise definitely plays a big role in living an inspired life,” he says. “Humans have evolved to be active. It’s outside of our nature to not be active.” With benefits including more energy, less stress, and improved sleep, it’s a no-brainer that exercise is good for us. We sat down with Alex to learn about four common mistakes to avoid.
Benefits of Exercise: Mental and Physical
First, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room: the pandemic has made exercise very difficult for many of us. “I find people are less happy, less active, less social, and there’s a drop in mood and energy levels,” Alex says.
We're all more stressed than normal, and we’ve been feeling this way for months. The good news is that exercise can improve our mental and physical health.
“Obviously other factors play a role, but it shows that exercise can improve all of these areas – mood, energy, stress, better sleep, and physiologically it can improve your cardiovascular health, heart, lungs, muscle mass, and bone density,” he shares. Research also supports the fact that exercise plays a large role in the prevention of several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, and more.
You don't have to be a marathon runner to reap these benefits – the small things add up and can make a world of difference. But according to studies, people who exercise are at a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries. Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes people make.
- Doing too much too soon.
- Scenario 1: Joel picks an arbitrary exercise goal of running 5km. His body feels fine after the first 5km run, so he does another 5km two days later. Soon, he’s running 20km per week. There’s a big increase in how often he's running.
- Scenario 2: Charlotte picks the same arbitrary goal of running 5km. Her body feels fine after the first 5km run, so the next week she runs 10km. There’s a big increase in how far she's running.
In both instances, Joel and Charlotte are doing too much too soon. This is something you should avoid because your body won’t have enough time to adapt or recover, which can lead to injuries down the road. “Even if your form is perfect, you can still overdo it by doing too much,” Alex says. “Too much of a good thing can still be bad, and too much of a bad thing can be even worse.”
This isn’t just about running – it's true for any form of exercise. Weight lifting, rowing, HIIT workouts, you name it. Gradually increase your frequency and intensity over time. Slow and steady really does win the race!
- Not having enough variety.
As humans, we tend to stick to what we like and what we’re good at. But not having enough variety is another mistake you should avoid.
If Joel runs five out of seven days a week, it consistently puts the same type of stress on his body. This increases his chance of developing an overuse injury, which can greatly impede his ability to exercise.
If Charlotte runs twice a week along with swimming, yoga, and weight training, her body will be stimulated and used in different ways. This reduces her chance of developing an injury and keeps her body functioning well.
Variety is the spice of life, so switch up your routine! Experiment with different workouts until you find more things you enjoy.
- Pushing through the pain.
You’ll reduce your chance of injury by taking it slow and adding variety. But that doesn’t mean you’re a superhuman – even the pros have to deal with injuries!
The third exercise mistake you should avoid is pushing through the pain. “Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong,” Alex says. “If left unaddressed, it can lead to a potentially more serious or chronic injury.”
Would you rather spend four weeks recovering from a sore ankle, or spend months – even years – suffering from chronic knee pain? Pushing through an injury can put more stress in the wrong areas of your body. And that can lead to (you guessed it), even more injuries and pain.
Research also shows that chronic pain is extremely common in Canada, especially in older populations. This is why you should always listen to your body and learn to stop when the alarm bells go off. Let a professional assess your pain before you jump back on the bandwagon.
- Procrastinating seeing a professional.
“So many people let a small injury turn into something bigger because they’ll do almost anything to avoid getting it diagnosed,” Alex says. “They’ll try to mask the pain with a brace, ice, or pain killers. But this just addresses the symptoms without addressing the cause.”
Many of his patients wait anywhere from three months to a year before coming in. Usually by that point, the injury is worse than it would have been if they came in sooner.
Even if your injury feels small or insignificant, it’s never too early to visit a professional. A physiotherapist or doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and help you recover the safest way possible. You’ll get back to doing what you love in a shorter amount of time – after all, exercise should be something you look forward to doing. Let’s take a closer look at how a physiotherapist can help.
What Does a Physiotherapist Do?
A physiotherapist is a healthcare professional who uses their vast knowledge of the human body to assess, diagnose and uncover the root cause of your condition. “For the most part, people are coming in because they want to resolve some sort of injury,” Alex shares.
That can include anything within the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. A physiotherapist will assess your condition and make an accurate diagnosis. Then, they’ll create an individualized treatment plan to help you get back to your everyday life.
“It typically involves some sort of exercise program, like stretches or strengthening exercises,” he explains. “There’s also a hands-on therapy component, which could involve acupuncture, electroacupuncture, deep tissue massage, or even adjustments. It depends on the practitioner.”
Who Needs Physiotherapy?
A good physiotherapist will consider your exercise goals and factor this in as part of your treatment. But you don’t need an injury in order to visit the pros! According to Alex, physiotherapy is valuable for everyone across all age groups.
“It‘s ingrained in us from a young age that we have to see the dentist every year, do regular follow-up appointments, and maintain our gum and teeth health. Physio is no different than that, except it’s for the entire body.”
A physiotherapist can teach you how to prevent injury or share tips to improve your athletic performance. At HealthOne, our team members can also create a custom exercise program for you and assess your functional mobility. Having one (or multiple) Rehab professionals on your healthcare team means keeping your body in tip-top shape.
How Much Does Physiotherapy Cost?
An initial physiotherapy session at HealthOne is $130. During this appointment, your practitioner will ask about the reason you came to visit them. Got a sprained ankle? Low back pain? Want to improve your flexibility? Understanding your why will allow them to create a unique treatment plan for your needs.
Follow-up sessions are $85 for 30 minutes and $120 for 45. Every person’s journey is different, so during an assessment, your physiotherapist will indicate how many appointments they recommend. They might suggest specialized treatments such as shockwave therapy and acupuncture, or recommend virtual follow-ups which can be done from the comfort of home. At HealthOne, we take most major insurance providers and offer direct billing for our patients.
Physiotherapy in Toronto
At the end of the day, an inspired life is one where you can move easily and without pain. An injury can easily get in the way of doing what you love – whether that’s running, lifting weights, or taking a stroll along Harbourfront.
Our Rehab Clinic is dedicated to not just treating symptoms, but identifying the root cause of them. This allows our patients to make a full recovery, taking into consideration all aspects of their physical health.
Alex is part of our multidisciplinary team at HealthOne. Along with talented physiotherapists, our Rehab team has chiropractors, kinesiologists, osteopaths, and massage therapists. We often make referrals to other members of our team so you get multiple perspectives and treatment approaches to support your recovery.
If you’re looking for physiotherapy in Toronto, our team would love to meet you! Click here to book a free consultation with Alex Chow, Physiotherapist. We look forward to helping you exercise better, prevent injury, and move your best.
One Life. Live Inspired.