Resolution Remedy: Scottsdale doctors share how to stay pain-free as you launch your workout program.

Enjoy a few glasses of champagne, try all the hors d’oeuvres, and indulge in those desserts, because tomorrow it’s time to hit the gym.

It’s no secret that every year on January 2nd, the gyms are packed with people committed to a year of exercise and healthy living. By February 2nd, however, many retire their running shoes, hang up their work out clothes, and remove their gym membership card from their wallet because, let’s be honest, it’s only taking up space.

Soreness and injury are two of the leading causes of burnout when it comes to exercise, and both can keep people out of the gym and onto the couch. Inevitably, most everyone endures some amount of soreness when beginning a new exercise regiment; however, soreness is often confused with injury. When a person does sustain an injury, many do not seek the appropriate treatment.

By following a few tips from local experts, you may be able to manage your pain and maintain your healthy living commitments in the New Year.

Warm up

It may be tempting to sprint out of the house and straight onto the jogging trail or step into the gym and begin resistance training, but it is important to properly prepare your body for exercise.

Dr. Mark Spiro with Valley Pain Consultants in Scottsdale says everyone, especially those over 50 years of age, should consult their primary care physician before beginning a new workout program.

After being cleared for physical activity, Spiro suggests a few minutes of warm-up aerobic exercise to loosen the muscles.

Following a quick warm-up, Dr. Alex Bigham of Novocur in Scottsdale recommends stretching key muscles groups. “Prolonged, easy stretching is just as important as the exercise itself,” Bigham says.

Though stretching can seem like a tedious process, it significantly decreases the chances of injury and helps alleviate sore muscles.

Start light and slow

People often desire to start their exercise regiments at too high of an intensity level. One of the greatest misconceptions about exercise is that “people think they’re going to get into the same routine from 20 years ago,” Bigham says.

Dr. Toure Knighton at the Pain Center of Arizona’s Scottsdale location advocates five minutes of light physical activity, three to five times a week for the first two weeks of a new exercise routine. After week two, Knighton recommends adding another five minutes of aerobic exercise and continuing to increase length and intensity every few weeks.

“People expect results too fast,” says Dr. Paul Lynch with the Arizona Pain Specialists in Scottsdale. “It is more of a marathon than a sprint,” he adds, and it takes time to ease into.

Pain or soreness?

Exercise has many physical demands on the body and can cause a serious amount of discomfort. Not all discomfort, however, is negative, and there is a significant difference between common soreness and pain caused by an injury.

Dr. Lynch warns that pain accompanied by redness, swelling or tenderness could be an indication of an injury.

General soreness is indicated only by mild discomfort of the muscles. Nevertheless, it is important to push through the discomfort of sore muscles.

“There’s no easy way to maintain physical shape,” Knighton says. “But, it is very important,” especially if you desire to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Stay accountable and committed

“Patients that develop a support network do astronomically better in their exercise regiments,” Knighton says. Tell friends and family about your decision and have them hold you accountable.

Try to remove obstacles that will keep you from reaching your goals. Bigham recommends choosing a gym that is close to home to keep you going back.

Finally, vary your routine and have fun while exercising. Spiro says many studies have proven that alternating exercises will help you stay committed.

Exercise is one of life’s great remedies. Leading a healthy and active lifestyle can help boost mental function, relieve stress, and has countless more benefits.

“Exercise is the best investment you will ever make for your mental and physical health,” Spiro says. So, follow these tips and enjoy a happier, healthier new year.

For more information about preventing pain as you launch your workout program, visit the following:

Arizona Pain Specialists
9787 N. 91st St., #101, Scottsdale
(480) 563-6400

The Pain Center
8630 E. Via de Ventura, #105, Scottsdale
(623) 516-8252

Valley Pain Consultants
5425 E. Bell Rd., #115, Scottsdale
(480) 467-2273

10025 E. Dynamite Blvd., #B-150, Scottsdale
(480) 515-1886

Scottsdale Living Magazine Winter 2013