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Men - go easy on yourself!

Whether you are hitting the gym to build muscle, get the perfect six-pack, or reap cardiovascular health benefits, regular exercise is the medicine for all ailments. No other activity will improve heart health, weight control, mental health, lower your risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cancer, plus improve your energy, mood and sleep.

NHS guidelines advise 150 minutes of exercise a week. However, many of us who are engaged in regular exercise are undertaking too much strength-training, and excess weights combined with poor training can not only hinder physical results, but will also reduce mobility and invite muscular problems down the line. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Simon Moyes and Physiotherapist and Fitness Instructor Ryan Caldia often come across patients whose training can have a detriment effect, and offer expert advice.

Simon Moyes comments, “There is now a great deal of pressure for men to look more fit and muscular. Magazines and films are portraying (photoshopped) men as being muscular, lean and fit, and men are under pressure from both other men and women to have this muscular physique. It’s because of this that we are seeing a concerning rise in the risks associated with overtraining in the gym.

“In my practice we see a huge number of men who are enthusiastically overtraining with excessive weight and lifting those weights inappropriately. You don’t build muscles when you’re training – you build them during resting, so rest days are as important in achieving results as the training days. Rest assured here, if you’re going to the gym for five or six hours a week, you’re not overtraining. The problem lies in excess, obsessive activity that results in injuries. If this sounds familiar, you should reassess your exercise and take the time to speak to a fitness expert.”

Ryan Caldia, a physiotherapist and fitness expert, continues, “There can be a mentality of more or heavier is better, but in reality it can be more beneficial to think in terms of quality over quantity.”

He adds, “The truth is, of course, the majority of young men are in the gym to pack on some muscle to impress the girls and they may even take supplements and steroids to get results. Men are still under a false impression and are sadly influenced by the media that it’s considered ‘soft’ to attend a class like pilates or yoga, or to work on flexibility.

“You see many men who believe it makes you more manly to only focus on throwing around heavy weights. However in regards to their long term health – this belief needs to change.”

Ryan continues, “Men are trying more new concepts and training modalities and the injuries are coming from these different sources. People are taking on new types of workouts without understanding or being taught proper alignment. So with this, there has been an increase in injuries coming from working out.

“We need to make sure people who are engaged in exercise are aware of the correct technique for their physique.”

Simon Moyes adds, “Torn ligaments are incredibly common amongst over-trainers. If you think you have torn a ligament you should ideally seek a referral to a specialist, such as a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon, if not a referral initially to a physiotherapist for assessment. Often these injuries are missed by A&E departments as they will simply X-ray you and may not refer you to the appropriate specialist.

“It is important that these injuries are dealt with within a reasonably short timeframe as results of treating such ligament injuries become worse if they are delayed.”

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