Many people begin their return to the gym and physical exercise after the holidays are over.  Whether this is simply a New Year’s Resolution or just an attempt to lose a few pounds depends on the person, but this is also a time when we see unique and painful injuries.  Every year in January and February many people find themselves with pulled muscles, strains, slipped discs, or even broken bones.  If you are headed to the gym after being out of shape for a long time here are three things you should watch out for, and one sign that you should call 911 immediately.

Dehydration and Injury

The holidays are often met with celebration, and many people consume alcohol during their holiday parties and dinners.  If you don’t consume responsibly you can develop dehydration, even in your alcoholic beverage has water in it.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it promotes urination, further depleting the body’s fluid storage.  This can become a serious problem if you do not drink enough water and electrolytes and head to the gym.  People who are new to a gym routine are unfamiliar with how much water the body uses simply in breathing (aspiration).  Once you start working out, sweating, and breathing harder, your body is already in need of more water.  How does this lead to injury?  Dehydration during exercise can be dangerous if you are lifting weights, hiking, running, or using an exercise machine that you can fall from, such as an exercise bike or dip bars.  Dehydration is often felt as dizziness, nausea, and can cause fainting quickly, and falling while exercising causes serious injuries.

Start Slowly and Stay Safe

New Year’s Resolutions are often ill-planned and many people – especially men – tend to overdo it at the gym.  If you are out of shape or haven’t lifted weights in months you must go slowly and build up to a full workout.  It is healthier to start a new exercise program with only 30 minutes of light exercise.  This will help you develop endurance and learn how your body has changed.  Many men hurt themselves lifting weights by simply trying to lift too much.  Start small.  Women are often more prone to exercise vigorously without proper nutrition, leading to pulled muscles, strained joints, and bulging discs injuries.  

Listen To Your Doctor and Physical Therapist

If you are thinking of starting an exercise routine you must first be healthy enough to exercise.  Use the new year to visit your doctor and ask him or her what exercises are right for you.  Speak to your physical therapist or schedule an appointment with us to discuss your exercise goals and abilities.  Using a little professional advice can prevent a lot of pain and injury.

Call 911 If You Experience This

If you are not in good shape and attempt to work out vigorously you may find yourself experiencing shortness of breath and heart palpitations.  If you do you must stop exercising immediately and sit down.  If your condition does not improve within a short period of time you should alert someone that you need help.  What happens is that many people (especially older adults) will overexert themselves and find that they are experiencing a myocardial infarction, or a heart attack or symptoms similar to that.  If this happens to you or someone around you it is time to call 911 and seek medical help immediately.  As always, consult with your medical professional before beginning any exercise regimen, and follow the instructions on any medications you are taking.