What is Physical Success?

We believe true Physical Success is about more than just avoiding (or suffering through) the pain, injury and illness life sometimes throws our way. A good physiotherapist knows how to help their patients overcome both the physical and internal struggles of being out of action and injured for weeks on-end. We help patients train their bodies and minds together to develop the focus energy and strength they need to start and end each day in top shape.

Here are our 5 steps to achieve this Physical Success:

Step 1: Motivation

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We all know that New Years resolutions don’t last. Why? Because they are shortsighted and often rely on external factors that we don’t have control over.

Rather decide on a physical BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for yourself.

BHAG is a term popularized by the book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by James Collins and Jerry Porras. Yes, the focus was on companies but it is just as relevant to the individual.

The idea is to have a goal that is bigger than any usual short or long-term goal. The slightly outrageous (but still tangible) BHAG should take a lifetime (10-30 years) of regular dedication to achieve, so don’t make it a small goal. It has to motivate you on the cold winter mornings as well as the scorcher days of summer, when you have had almost zero sleep and when everyone else is taking a day off.

Some examples would be: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on your 80th birthday, being able to play golf with your grandchildren or Cycling 20 Argus races before you turn 90.

Step 2: Know the requirements

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In order to achieve the physical BHAG you set yourself, you need to know the physical needs to achieve this. Example, if you want to be able to climb Mt Kilimanjaro on your 80th birthday, you need to be healthy, have good lung capacity and strong quads muscles. You may need to be able to arrange to climb regular mountains or walk long distances to build up stamina.

These are the short and long-term goals that fit in with new years resolutions and can change year to year because the focus is always on achieving the BHAG.

Step 3: Build good habits around these.

If the goal is to remain healthy, the World Health Organisation (WHO), recommends we all get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of both PER WEEK. In addition to that, we should do strength training of all the major muscle groups twice PER WEEK.

A good habit would be to commit to 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise daily for 5 days and 2 days of strength training per week.

Seem like a lot and unmanageable? Start with a small amount that doesn’t seem overwhelming. Build the exercise habit, then increase the amount.

60 seconds is easy to commit to on a daily basis. Start there.

Step 4: Join or create community

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Let’s face it, disciplined exercise is hard and requires a lot of grit. We are gregarious creatures by nature and are more motivated to participate in activities when the reward of socialising is attached to it. Even better is if they have similar values that resonate with your BHAG.

Often people are told to have an exercise partner or buddy so that they are accountable to that person. This is useful, but very limiting. The accountability is built on an understanding that your buddy is almost like a task master with negative consequences if you don’t pitch up. Not very inspiring, especially not long term. And inevitably life can get in the way, illness, injury, changing cities. Then what?

Community works well because the responsibility doesn’t fall on one relationship and the inspiration is positive – social, friendship, banter.

Step 5: Know your limits and prevent injury

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The easiest way to blow-out and bring your physical success to a grinding halt before it even begins is to think you are superhuman, 20 years old when you are double that and take on too much too fast.

Every single human whether younger or older has to physically adjust to the activities we decide to pursue. Our bodies have capacity according to the load that it has learned to adjust to. When you add more or new loads (new activities), know that the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons need time to develop capacity for this load.

If you rush the process, those tissues may just complain in the form of pain.

What if you already experience pain or discomfort? The good news is that the body is very good at adjusting to new loads if given ample time and support. If you are already experiencing pain, it means that it hasn’t adjusted to the current activity load. In that case, we need to unload a bit and give the body a chance to catch up. This doesn’t necessarily mean complete rest, it may be as simple as reducing the current overall load by 10% and seeing if the body reacts well. This could be reducing body weight, distance, repetitions. Then adding the right load to build it up again.

And this is where your physiotherapist enters into the picture. We are able to assess where your current capacity is, advise on good exercises to slowly load and help the body adjust without injury and if there is pain, treat the cause and teach activity modification in order for you to reach that BHAG.

Happy 2020.