Get fit for exercise

PUBLISHED: 01:30 31 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:41 20 February 2013

As Olympic fever grips the nation, there could be no better time to make exercise part of your lifestyle. Clare Kemp, physiotherapy manager at Oaks Hospital in Colchester offers some advice

As Olympic fever grips the nation, there could be no better time to make exercise part of your lifestyle. How do you start safely, perhaps after many years of a sedentary lifestyle? But no excuses! Clare Kemp, physiotherapy manager at Oaks Hospital in Colchester offers some advice

Becoming fit doesnt necessarily mean pushing yourself to the limit and being technically brilliant. Everyone can enjoy the pleasure of getting fitter and the health benefits. If there is an activity that interests you, these are some of the things that you would need to do.

Look at the technique

Look at the equipment

When was the last time you exercised?

Having identified what type of activity you want to start, doing the correct type of pre-exercise can help prevent an injury. Not long rigorous hours of boring treadmill work, but exercise tailored to suit you and your sport.

The common causes of sports injuries are:

Have there been any changes in your health since the last time you exercised?


Not warming up properly


Using inadequate equipment


Pushing yourself too hard


Change in the biomechanics of the body after several years


Starting too quickly


Not knowing our limitations and thinking we are as young as we were when did our last amount of exercise!


Returning to sport too early after either surgery or injury could result in a recurrence or compensating for a weakness could result in a different part of the body being affected. For example, a previous knee injury without proper rehabilitation can result in chronic weakness of the thigh muscle. This could eventually lead to hip or back problems on either side of the body as compensation for the muscle weakness. A correct assessment can identify any underlying issues to help begin a back to fitness programme.

A pre-exercise physiotherapy assessment is beneficial to identify the particular biomechanics and muscles needed in the sport or activity.

What can physiotherapy offer?

Being experts in movement patterns, a physiotherapist would look in depth at the particular type of activity you are considering, and would carry out an evaluation relating to your posture, the particular muscles used in the activity, and assess whether you have any muscle imbalance and/or any joint problems.

Different sports use different muscle groups and different equipment, for example, if you play tennis you will be moving your shoulder and neck, as well as running. Prevention of common injuries such as tennis elbow, shoulder injuries or back injuries is essential.

Playing golf would use different distinct muscle groups and flexibility. To prevent injury, a physiotherapist would identify your individual risk factors initially, and correct any muscle imbalance or biomechanical changes. Even low impact activities such as walking can aggravate joint and muscle pain especially if there are any signs of osteoarthritis in the knees or feet. Changing footwear or strengthening the correct muscles are simple measures that a pre-assessment with a chartered physiotherapist could help to ascertain.

If you do have an underlying problem and consequently have avoided exercise, a full body "MOT" could help you get back into a healthy regime of gentle exercise. As your exercise level improves it would be possible to increase the level of activity and return to full fitness.

So dont just watch the Olympics get yourself into physical shape, with professional guidance. Please contact the Physiotherapy Department at Oaks Hospital on 01206 753 222 for further information or to book an appointment, or visit for information on the hospitals treatments and services. The assessment is tailor made and a short programme started in a private gym on a 1:1 basis with appointments to suit.

Being realistic about current physical capability

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