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Have Knee and Back Pain Ruined Your New Year’s Resolution Already?

Just one month ago, Millions of people made a New Year’s Resolution’s, but 80% of those resolutions fail by February 1st.

Here we are in February–How is your resolution going?

The most popular New Year’s Resolutions focus on weight loss and exercise, but many are quickly derailed by Knee or Back pain. Many people believe that weight loss and exercise will “cure” that knee or back pain that started as they started their New Program for the New Year.

But that is rarely the case!

Every year around this time of year, I start to hear about how people’s knees and backs have started to bother them for the last 2-3 weeks. As we continue to talk, some people mention these problems a while back that went away, and start to bother them recently. Many mention that they started in the gym recently and the pain came back.

January comes around and the peer pressure of starting strong comes around and you go to the gym everyday, but before January is November and December where you had Thanksgiving, went shopping and tried every Christmas Cookie under the sun. The holidays are a time that we all love, not just for the food, but for the time we spend in long held traditions, including but not limited to sitting on the couch watching football!

After a week or two of exercise, your back and knees are screaming at you!

Because they weren’t ready to go from the couch to the “new you”.

Here are my top 5 tips that I give my patients and friends this time of year to get the most out of their new exercise program:

1. Mobility before Strength Training

Your muscles can’t function well if your joints are not moving normally. So, you don’t really want to strengthen around a joint that isn’t moving its best, because you will just encourage compensation.

This is something that we saw a lot of at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, people had all this newfound time on their hands, and started walking and jogging, but their joints had been used to staying still and weren’t ready for all this new activity…sounds just like January, huh? At that time (AND every February), we saw all these people with new or recurrent nagging back and knee pain because of their new movement routines.

Don’t let this happen to you, start by making sure all your joints including the joints of your spine move appropriately before beginning any exercise program.

2. Pace Yourself

It is very tempting to start the year off and say “That’s it! This is the year! I’m going to go at this HARD!” But remember, when it comes to weight loss and getting in shape, this is a “NEW LIFESTYLE”, not a short term decision. This is best handled with a slow steady pace. The tortoise beat the hare because he was able to keep going forward…and not be distracted (by back and knee pain).

If you’ve been out of shape and sedentary for a while, you should expect some soreness, but if your limping around for a few days or having trouble rolling over in bed because your back is killing you…it may not be just soreness. “No Pain, No Gain” is not exactly right…it should be “No Strain, No Gain”, but that strain and soreness should gradually improve between work outs.

I generally advise my patients to push to about a 5 out of 10 level when starting a workout program (especially if they’ve been out of shape for a while), and that if the pain last more than a day or so, they are going to hard. This extreme effort that many try to give can be a big cause of this knee and back pain coming back (or even just starting).

3. Stay Hydrated

Most people don’t drink enough during the day, let alone when they exercise.

Drinking more water has 2 great benefits:

1. It will give you the extra hydration you need if you’re planning to become more active to counteract the sweat loss and the added hydration that your muscle need to work through the exercise session. And…

2. It helps you lose weight by curbing your appetite.

Staying hydrated, also, helps increase stamina and strength, lubricates joints, helps improve cardiovascular function and mental awareness.

A good place to start to try to stay hydrated is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water.

4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

As I said, this is a lifestyle change! All the platitudes of it being a marathon, not a sprint are correct (even if your goal has nothing to do with running the marathon).

Many people lose the motivation to complete this resolution, just because we as humans love the beginning and end of things. There is a beginning and end of the week, that project at work starts at a certain time and has a due date, and we all start to watch our kids little league season with the understanding that June is coming. The problem with the change to this new fit lifestyle is that there is no end to this resolution…that’s what makes new year’s resolutions so hard!

The vast majority of people have ALREADY given up on their resolutions and have said “well, next year”….

But, it’s a Year’s resolution for a reason. The good news is that it January and February don’t define the year (just look at 2020…January and February were GREAT…then March happened). The quality of how you did on your 2021 resolution cannot be evaluated on January and will be evaluated in December based on the “By and Large” principle…Did I complete my goes more days than not? Did I have a good year overall? By and large, did I do what I said I would do?

In 2021, we have one month down, and we may have just learned what doesn’t work. We learned that what we were doing hurt our backs and knees. NOW, don’t get down on yourself for not doing as well as you would have liked for 1/12th of the year…Would Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes just quit in Sunday’s Super Bowl if they had a bad first 5 minutes of the first quarter. That is what giving up on your resolution in February is.

February is the month that I ask everyone to give themselves a little grace and don’t beat yourself up, you can still have a successful 2021.

5. Get Assessed by a Movement Specialist

If you’ve already got some nagging back or knee pain, the best way to be able to get into an exercise program is to be assessed by an movement expert FIRST. Your first thought may be to go see your medical doctor first (which isn’t a bad idea), but its important to understand how different medical professionals look at you and your knee and back pain.

Medical doctors are trained to screen your whole body and see serious problems, then they can send you for an X-ray or an MRI to determine serious problems, but they are not really trained in how your pain behaves during exercise and specific movements and how they relate to how and what you feel. That is where we come in.

We are able to assess your movement in detail using a combination of pinpointing exactly what causes the pain, various movement testing, and pathologic tests to determine what is causing your problem and what it will take to fix it and allow you to get back on track with your 2021 resolutions.

I hope your year has started off amazingly, but if you do have nagging back or knee problems that are getting in your way, reach out for a Free Discovery Visit. I would love to talk to you about your goals and to be part of your team towards