As the winter sports wrap up and we move into spring time, the warmer months bring opportunity to do some different exercise through the off season, or renewed motivation to work on that beach body before summer holidays come around.

Exercise & One Common Mistake We Make

One common mistake that can occur from this excitement though is training overload, and it’s a big reason why people seek the care of our ATUNE Physiotherapist’s this time of year.

Any sort of exercise produces a stress (usually good stress) upon all of our body systems - especially our muscular and skeletal systems. Our bones, tendons, joints, ligaments and muscles have all adapted to the usual amount of stress we place upon them from day to day.

If we introduce a small change in load, for example starting to take the stairs at work each day instead of the elevator, it places new stresses upon these body systems. These new stresses trigger the processes of recover, repair, and finally adaptation to the new load. This can be a combination of changes, such as increasing the bone’s density, increasing muscle size, or strengthening the tendon that connects the two.

The key word here is “adapt”. Through this small change in load, our body has time to move through the process of recover, repair and adapt. This is healthy and natural for the body.

When we overdo it, is where we go wrong. And let’s face it, human nature, especially when we’re motivated and in the moment, likes to be the metaphorical “bull in the China shop”, especially when it comes to exercise.

An Exercise Story

Let’s look at our friend Suzy who has decided to lose some weight over Spring before her Gold Coast holiday over Christmas. She had been recommended to join a Bootcamp class down the road from work four mornings per week with her colleague who has been doing it for years and finds it really fun.

After a relatively relaxed winter period of walking the dog three mornings a week for 30 minutes, Suzy suddenly finds herself doing 200 squats, 50 burpees, 2km’s of sprinting, 100 push-ups, and 100 star jumps, just on Monday morning!

Suzy’s colleague has been doing this kind of exercise for years and has allowed the time for her body to adapt to this high demand. As you can clearly see, for Suzy this is a massive shock to her body system.

By the time Suzy has reached Thursday and endured three more classes, her knee, which hasn’t had the time to move through recover, repair and adapt each day, begins having sharp pains and swelling just from getting out of the chair at work. Suzy cancels her boot camp classes she has committed to for the next few weeks and calls ATUNE Physio for an appointment before the end of week.

Exercise: Do LESS, More Often

How many of us know a Suzy? This overload scenario is all too common and can be avoided through sensible programming with the advice from your Physiotherapist. For clients like Suzy, our first discussion is usually around the premise of Do less, more often.

It’s not much of a stretch to recognize that small amounts of exercise done frequently and sustainably for weeks, is going to help Suzy to reach her goal much faster (and more enjoyably!) than “sprinting out of the blocks” and breaking down at the first hurdle.

So, let’s use that newfound motivation strategically and speak with your Physiotherapist about what exercise plan is going to get you to your goal faster, without injury. Let’s give our body the time it needs to adapt with a therapeutic load, not an abusive load, so that we can enjoy the journey to better health at the same time.


Article by Michael Corrigan, a Physiotherapist at ATUNE