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How to not let an injury (or your weight) stop you from working out

How to not let an injury (or your weight) stop you from working out

“Life goes on and on, even in pain.” When Mumbai-based trainer Tehsin Ratna talks to you about working out while in agony, you listen. With a career that dates back to 2001 and includes working with renowned hotel chains, private gyms and, finally, as a personal trainer, he’s trained a lot of people—from regular Joes to expatriates to soldiers on break from war. Armed with a specialisation in fitness for older adults from the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) and a course from the Pilates Institute of America (PIA), he now specialises in training people with chronic health issues. He highlights three of the most common problems—and tells us how we can fight them.

OBESITY

Cause: There’s a reason Ratna’s course choice was a specialisation in fitness for older adults—he observed a steady rise in lifestyle-related issues. Kids have health problems sooner and adults suffer from all sorts of lifestyle-related problems, including obesity. He blames a hectic lifestyle for weight gain—we don’t eat the right food, in the right amount at the right time, or workout right.
Solution: While portion-control theories and obscure diets are aplenty, Ratna believes obesity begins at your mouth and that humans are designed to eat ‘minimum’ food. How to eat right? Chew your food, eat it without distractions like the TV, and wait for 20 minutes before you eat more (that’s how long it takes for your brain to register that you are truly full).
Workout: Don’t overload joints; if you weigh more than 100kg, you shouldn’t lift heavy weights at all. If walking hurts, swim—water cuts down your weight to 10 per cent. Once you’re comfortable swimming, add weights to use water to your advantage! Once you feel your joints are mobilised, move to seated and lying-down exercises, like seated shoulder press, back pulls, lying-down back pulls, or lying-down Pilates exercises.

 

CHRONIC BACKACHE

Cause: Bad posture, bad footwear, incorrect walking style, overloading the back on a regular basis and ignoring the problem when it is in the early stages.
Solution: First, pinpoint what is causing the backache and remedy the problem. Often, a simple answer to all back issues lies in your core—if your abdominal muscles are weak your back will hurt, so strengthen your core.
Workout: Before you can work out, make sure you see a doctor and undertake physiotherapy. We tend to ignore fledgling problems, making them worse, so work out only once you’ve been given the go-ahead and avoid any exercise that requires forward bending, side twisting and strain on the affected area.

KNEE TROUBLE

Cause: Walking incorrectly is one of the main causes—your feet need to be properly aligned or the uneven weight distribution puts pressure on the knee joint. People who use cars, cabs and flights find their legs in awkward positions, which leads one to walk incorrectly. And while it may seem inane, bad posture, walking incorrectly and in the wrong footwear are the biggest causes of knee trouble.
Solution: Fix the root problem—see a doctor and get diagnosed even if the knee ache is just about starting up. Runners, on feeling an ache, go for the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, and if that doesn’t work see an expert and stick to shorter runs when given the go-ahead.
Workout: Reduce the load; get to the pool (it quickens improvement) and make yourself more flexible with physiotherapy and using foam roller exercises. Once you’ve got your mobility back, restart with lighter versions of your workout and focus on knee-strengthening exercises.

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