Your needs are completely unique. A sprinter and a tennis player both need to run, but the demands on their bodies are completely different. We recommend you work with an experienced coach or trainer in your field and make sure they take your needs into account. If you have a history of injury, they should allow for that and tailor training to suit you. A really good trainer will be happy to work alongside other specialists – from physios to rehab therapists to nutritionists – to make sure you’re feeling and performing your best.
Know your enemy - learn about injuries for your sport. We hope that you’ll never get injured, but each sport comes with specific risks, and prevention is much better than recovery! For example, footballers often end up with anterior cruciate ligament injuries from tackles – some basic exercises and stretches can help keep the knee in shape to avoid this taking hold. Meanwhile, cyclists can avoid getting characteristic sore wrists or stiff necks with simple stretches and wrist movements. Head over to our Amazon shop to find the ebooks and exercises relevant to you.
That shiny piece of equipment may be expensive, but it’s not necessarily right for you. If you’re ready to make a big workout purchase, speak to an expert. They can analyse your movements and recommend kit that will work with and for your body and technique. If you’re buying a pair of running shoes, make sure you get a gait analysis done – most good running shops will do this for you. If you’re buying a bike, talk to our lovely friends at Swift Cycles about picking the right machine for you. And the team at Victory can show you how to move efficiently on it.
For most people, the aim of endurance training is to have more in reserve than you need. Office workers, for example, need less endurance than gardeners to do their job. A good workout routine shouldn’t push you right to the brink of exhaustion every time, because even with endurance work, form and technique are important. Stay in control, and don't push yourself too far.
Muscle fibres fall into two categories – there are fast twitch muscles, which power fast movements like jumping, or sprinting, and slow twitch muscles which you use constantly and are harder to wear out. The muscles in your lower back, for example, keep you upright, while your pelvic floor helps keep you continent. You can train these slow twitch muscles to keep them in shape and avoid future problems.
Stretching up high and touching your toes are well and good, but for long-term flexibility, you may need something with the structure of regular Pilates or yoga. If you're a beginner, or prone to injuries, work with an experienced teacher who can guide you through the poses and give you individual attention. If you’d like to get started on your own first, click here to try our 5 Yoga Poses for Stiff People programme.
As more and more of us spend long days sitting down at our desks, flexibility becomes less of a priority. Sitting down all day inhibits the movement in some of the most important muscles – notably the hamstrings, and hip flexors. It can also cause problems with your shoulders and upper back, as you lean forward over your keyboard. The good news is that it’s reversible! We recommend you get up from your desk once an hour and talk a walk around. Try to make sure you stretch your shoulders and upper back too, and get a full range of movement going.
Flexibility is an enormous part of injury prevention. A runner with limited flexibility will feel a twinge in their hamstring as soon as they lengthen their stride. This puts paid to training until a physio has been consulted. And flexibility is not just for sporty people – if you ever run for a train or bus, stretch to grab something off a high shelf, or bend to pick something up off of the floor, poor flexibility increases your likelihood of getting injured.
Good form is vital to a good workout. There’s no point in doing fifty squats if you’re doing them incorrectly! Doing an exercise incorrectly not only stops you getting the most from it, it also puts you at risk of injury as you compensate for bad movement patterns. If you aren’t sure how to do an exercise correctly, ask your trainer or an expert before you try. If you’re working out at home, visit our YouTube channel for a range of video guides.
Cardio is great, but it’s actually not the most efficient way to keep in shape. Building muscle helps speed up your metabolism, since muscle is metabolically active tissue. Even at rest, muscles use energy and burn fat. This doesn’t mean that you need to do loads of weight lifting, or buy expensive equipment. Simple resistance training can involve as little as your own body weight to begin with, working up to small dumbbells or kettlebells.
Strength isn’t just about how much you can lift. When people think of muscles, they tend to think of ‘power’ muscles, which help you perform an action, but stability muscles have a hugely important job too, and are often ignored during training sessions. These muscles stabilise your body – think of your transversus abdominus (core abdominal muscle) holding you upright as you sit at your desk, for example. Here at Victory, we provide sessions dedicated just to the core muscles. Pop in and see us and we'll soon have you standing proud.
Yours goals and lifestyle determine the exercises that will work for you. That's why we consider the full person, not just their injury. Whether you want to run around with the kids or enter a cycling event, try to give your body the best start possible. Check all of your kit, from racquet to trainers, and if it’s old, worn or doesn’t fit, throw it away and get new gear. If sport isn’t your thing, just make sure you stay on top of your physio or rehab exercises, and do a range of stretches to keep yourself flexible and injury-free.
People recovering from injury often worry that the pain will return – or that they’ll develop a new injury instead. After completing a course of physiotherapy, we recommend seeing a good exercise rehabilitation therapist to work on core strength and endurance. This will help you keep those great new movement patterns and posture and prevent the old injury returning.
If you’re newly recovered from an injury and going back to training, there are a few things to consider. Your body will adapt to the demands you place on it, but it takes time! Build up your exercises gradually, get a decent night’s sleep each night, and work recovery time and rest days into your schedule.
Some injuries are caused by specific traumatic incidents. More often, though, they come on gradually over time, in the form of ‘overuse’ injuries, such as knee pain whilst running. 'Overuse' is a bit of a misleading name, suggesting that the best way to treat such injuries is to rest them until the pain has subsided, before returning to previous practice without changing anything. In fact, these injuries are caused by misuse, not overuse, and the only way to get rid of the pain in the long term is to change the movement pattern. For example, knee pain could be caused by the glutes not firing properly, tight hamstrings, or pelvic dysfunction – but you won’t know until the whole problem has been investigated.
Let's get something straight: posture matters. A huge number of our patients have ‘text neck’ (imagine having your phone in your hand and peering down at it). Over time, this bad posture causes your chin to jut forwards to meet the demands you make of it. Your head is extremely heavy (around 10-11lbs, or 5kg), so holding it even a few degrees forward can increase pressure on your neck and shoulders. If you’ve recently been suffering from stiffness or soreness in these areas, have a look at our short video guide to perfect posture.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's talk about backs. Back pain, particularly lower back pain, is one of the most common problems we see here at Victory. A common factor among many of our back pain patients is that they spend long hours sitting at a desk each day. If this sounds a lot like you, it’s a good idea to see a physio first to rule out any underlying problems, but for posture correction, our friends at The Back Shop sell a range of brilliantly designed furniture to get you working right.
Many people have found yoga useful as a way of gaining control over stress levels. Here at Victory, we’re big fans. We have plenty of options if you want to come in or you can practise in your own home with our online programme, 5 Yoga Poses for Stressed People.
Everyone combats stress in a different way. Some cook, others box, and some like a good night out. If you’re busy and struggling to find some you-time, try some deep breathing exercises. Take a deep breath in for the count of four, and then breathe out for the count of eight. Taking a few seconds out in this way can really help to reset your central nervous system and get you back on track. If you would like professional help in managing stress, you may want to talk to our psychologist, Dr Victor Thompson.