Starting a fitness program? Remember: Go slowly

KUSA -With gorgeous, long Colorado days ahead, many folks are dusting off their running shoes, greasing the chain on their bikes and trying on swimsuits.

Gearing back up to get fit is a wonderful goal, however experts advise everyone to start slow or you could end up hobbling to the doctor's office.

Exercise and fitness trends are great at getting people active, healthy and engaged. But, they could also be harmful," warns H. Andrew Motz, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Advanced Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists.

"It is critical that people approach these exercise options carefully to avoid ending up in our offices," Motz said.

Some of the recent health trends that the physicians at Advanced Orthopedic have identified as potentially harmful include:

1. Barefoot running advocates argue that the human body began running without shoes and that wearing shoes actually prevents foot muscle development. However, as this fitness trend continues to take off, runners could be risking injury by too quickly shifting to a new running style. Runners may experience stress fractures, shin splints and increased soreness in the calves as a result of not properly transitioning to this new running style and attempting to change their gait.

Instead of tossing your running shoes, Advanced Orthopedic recommends focusing on how your foot lands as you run and working to distribute the impact of each step throughout your entire foot, rather than mainly your heel.

2. High intensity circuit training classes have taken the fitness world by storm. But, the high intensity nature of these types of activities can pose increased injury risks if people try to do too much too fast. Without proper training and easing into an activity, even the most elite of athletes can suffer an injury.

If a high intensity workout is what motivates you to stay active, take part in a class that lets you move at your own pace and remember to take the crucial time at the beginning of your workout to warm up and stretch. Also, pay careful attention to form. Many times in these fast paced workout environments, in an effort to keep up, individuals struggle to maintain good form and end up hurting themselves.

3. For the right individual, yoga is a great way to de-stress and workout, but that does not mean it is the fitness trend for everybody. First-time yogis trying a more advanced class or pose could overextend their muscles aggravating them, even pulling a muscle. Yoga is all about stretching, but if you do not listen to your own body you could harm yourself.

If you are giving yoga a try for the first time, or even as you advance in your yoga practice, take it slow and come out of a pose if it is too difficult and you feel your muscles begin to shake and fatigue.

4. Spin classes are an excellent way to get a great cardiovascular workout, but many enthusiastic instructors may incorporate too many gyrations while on the bike. Incorporating squats, hovers, push-ups, hip thrusts, jumps or one-foot spins are not always appropriate to be performed on a bike. These types of moves can risk shoulder and knee injuries.

Remember that these extra movements are merely suggested options, not required and not recommended. Simply riding a bike at the appropriate intensity and incline level can be a productive workout.

5. At first glance, the exercise items being sold on TV may look like a fast, easy way to get in shape-but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Whenever you bring a stationary piece of equipment into your home to augment your workout regimen, it is important to make sure you have taken all the proper precautions to ensure its safety.

Not properly securing punching bags or pull-up bars could cause injuries if they come loose from the wall during a workout. Additionally, a new abdominal or weightlifting machine may look like the quick fix on TV, but individuals should always slowly ease into a new activity to reduce unnecessary strain and stress on joints and muscle.

"Exercise can help you lose weight, reduce risk of disease and prolong your life. But it should be done thoughtfully," explains Dr. Motz. "A good rule of thumb is to listen to your mind and body-if it looks too good to be true, it probably is; and if you're feeling shaky or overwhelmingly fatigued, you could be putting yourself at serious risk of injury."

For other injury prevention guidance, visit Advanced Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialistsvisit:


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