It’s the dawning of a New Year, and just about everyone I know is making the same New Year’s Resolution: to get back into shape, and to get fit.
I’m a jock at heart, so of course I support this idea. Good cardiovascular function isn’t just about looking cute in your swimsuit next summer. Having a healthy heart and lungs, muscles and bones means that you have more energy for your life: your kids, your family, enjoying activities, being able to throw the ball 1,000 for your dogs at the park, and of course being productive at your job and taking care of business.
But here’s a bit of caution. Lots of people start off in January, guns blazing. They plan to run a couple of miles before and after work, and really melt down that beer bunion. They buy a set of free weights, set them up in the garage, and plan to lift every night. They buy a treadmill and plan to blaze through all of those “Cheeto years” spent on the couch every night.
Be careful—this attitude generally results in disappointment. First, you have to remember that, if you are out of shape, perhaps overweight, you did not achieve that state overnight. It took time. Effort. And pizza. And beer!
Likewise, to shed those pounds, build cardio endurance and improve muscle strength also will take time, patience and reps.
Bolting out of the front door an hour early, in a tired pair of fashion sneakers which may be several years old, and attempting to run around the park with no preparation, will leave you feeling discouraged and defeated. It can also hurt your feet, ankles, back and other joints. Men, especially men over the age of 40, especially those carrying some extra weight, become sufferers of Plantar Fasciitis every January for precisely this reason. It also happens every spring. Something about the smell of fresh-cut lawns and the soft “thok” of tennis balls being hit over the net makes men (in particular—though women do it, too) forget they’ve been sitting at a desk for 12 months!
But back to New Year’s Resolutions. New athletic shoes are a small investment for the new year. Remember that the components used to make athletic shoes are like the shocks of a car, or the springs of a mattress or couch. After uncounted impacts, they just lose their bounce and ability to insulate you from blows. I suggest that you visit your podiatrist before purchasing new training shoes; he or she may have some advice regarding the type of shoe you need, based upon your weight, gait and tendency to pronate (roll toes in).
A structured shoe with orthotics can make a world of difference when you’re setting out to reinvent your body, fitness level and life by getting in shape for 2014. Most importantly, we want to prevent painful injuries like Plantar Fasciitis and tearing of the Achilles Tendon while we’re whipping ourselves into Olympian form.
I recommend stretching before a run, jog or even a walk. If you’re a man reading this, I don’t want to hear, “Please, doc, my sister does yoga,” accompanied by an eye-roll. Stretching is not girly, trust me. I’ve worked with dozens of NFL and NBA pro athletes, and they regard stretching as vital to victory. Check out this little video from Runner’s World—these simple squats and hops can prepare your feet and ankles for the impact of the run:
Oh, and don’t even think about running barefoot or wearing those trendy “barefoot” running shoes. More about those in another blog.
HERE’S TO A JOYFUL AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR FOR ALL!