The Figure-8 Body: How to Safely Get It in 2020

By Nkiru Jibuaku

Happy New Year everyone. Welcome to 2020.  With the start of the new year, chances are that one or all the following made it on your new year resolution list:

  1. Get fit
  2. Get back to exercising
  3. Pick a new sport
  4. Lose weight

Once decided, many of us will head to the gym and jump on these resolutions heavy and hard. Lifting or trying everything furiously in the gym to quickly achieve the 6 packs you have promised yourself in 2020 can lead to all manners of injuries, some of them quite serious. Most people will then gather their bruised ego and abandon the gym, never to return until the desire for well-toned muscles strike them again after two or three years.

While being physically active can reduce your risk of chronic diseases, help control your weight, improve your mood and really boost your self-esteem, it can also result in injuries.

It is the time of the year when physiotherapists like me see a lot of patients with injuries stemming from new year resolution.  I treated a lady last year that was overweight. After the excesses of the holiday she decided she was done with spare fat in her body and took to the gym with all gusto. Sadly, by the middle of February she developed a knee injury.  She had to stop all gym activities while we sorted the knee out. It turned out that this patient didn’t observe the cardinal rules for anyone using the gym for the first time or after a long break.

Tips on avoiding injuries will achieving your goals

  1. Check your health: It is important to consult your Doctor if you are not used to strenuous exercises or if you are aged 45 and over. A check could detect a health problem that is dormant in your body but could become problematic once the rigors of exercising is added.
  2. Go easy at the start: My patient went to gym with the mindset of achieving her weight loss goal in one month, so she basically went from 0 – 100. She carried the maximum weight she could tolerate, did as many reps as possible and got on any machine she felt could help her achieve her dream. At the end of the day what was achieved was the use of poor techniques while exercising and overloading the joint and muscle of her left knee leading to injuries.

Go gently please. Start off with familiarizing yourself with the equipment in the gym. Talk to someone in the gym to explain to you how the machines work and teach you the proper techniques in doing certain exercises.  Let them know you have not used the machines before or for a long time.

Keep your goals simple and attainable and the add on as you go along.

  1. Don’t forget to warm up: The importance of warming up before any exercise regime is to
  • Slowly raise heart rate
  • Increase blood flow to muscle
  • Gently stretch muscles
  • Increase body temperature

Cold muscles have been shown to get injured easily so make warmup a vital part of your routine.

  1. Listen to your body: It is normal to feel some pain or discomfort after exercising especially if you are new to it. This pain should ease in a few days after some rest. However, if the pain extends beyond 3 days, then it is time to seek the help of your physiotherapist so you can be assessed, given expert advice and treatment, so you can return to the gym as quickly as possible.

Goodluck with getting that 6 packs!

Nkiru Jibuaku has practised as a physiotherapist for 18 years in both Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

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