Ross Clifford, co-author of Bulletproof Bodies: Body-weight Exercise for Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation, discusses how to maintain that fitness New Year’s resolution without injury.

Hopefully you are reading this article and feeling pleased with yourself – one week into that new fitness regime and going strong. Plodding the miles, hitting the gym, or stretching and toning with yoga or Pilates. If you are still toying with the idea of any of the above but haven’t made the first step then do not worry, and certainly do not feel guilty. Every day is an opportunity to make a start; it doesn’t have to be the first day of January.

Whatever your situation and your preferred method of being active, beware of the pitfall that can stop your fitness goals in their tracks – injury. We really hope that after the first week of your resolution you are keeping well and avoiding the curse of ‘too much too soon’.

I saw a case of this in clinic recently with a patient who, after having a few months off running, decided to come back to it with a vengeance. After three lots of 5km runs in the first week they pulled up with what appeared to be a groin strain. By the time they came to see me one year had passed and this person was still not able to run because of their hip pain.

Prevention is better than cure. Do not ignore old injuries or weaknesses, and do not run blindly in to a new training programme hoping that you are ‘bulletproof’. Those bigger or more toned muscles, and that stronger cardiovascular system can only be achieved by movement of the body created at the joints. These joints have many associated structures, including ligaments and tendons to name but a few. These structures respond really well to strain and load, which are both forms of physical stress. But too much stress too early can lead to excessive breakdown of these structures without time and energy for growing stronger. There may also be an accumulation of inflammation that leaves you in pain after exercise.

The good news is that with the right type and amount of stress, and with adequate time and nutrition for recovery, these structures can bounce back. Even bones with signs of stress fracture can recover with the right management, meaning you can get that fitness goal back on track.

But why wait until the injury has occurred? Remember, prevention is better than cure. Load those tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, and muscles in a controlled way and build strength and stability work in to your programme.  It doesn’t have to be hours of training if it is targeted to your weaknesses or areas of your body under most load. It won’t detract from your running, cycling or yoga ambitions – it will supplement, and possibly enhance, those ambitions.

And the best thing is that you don’t necessarily need to join a gym or buy expensive home equipment. Body-weight exercise is a great method for loading and mobilising joints. It uses multiple body areas at a time making your workout time-efficient, and it can be done anywhere you can find space, using everyday objects around you. It’s worth saying one last time – prevention is better than cure. Start developing your bulletproof body today!