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May 10, 2021


High Intensity Training, better known as HIIT, is a hugely popular form of exercise all over the world. It’s touted as having a myriad of benefits to improve health, fitness and weight loss in short and efficient workouts – often lasting less than 45 minutes.

There’s no doubt that the scientific evidence proves that HIIT works, and many gyms and exercise instructors will happily point out these benefits. However – what they might say or not even know is that the incidence of injury for HIIT – especially for first timers new to the activity – can be as high as 80 percent after 18 months!

We’ve lost count of the number of patients who we have had to treat at clinic who have undergone this scenario – they’ve not exercises regularly for a while, so they enrol onto an HIIT class to lose weight and get fit – they love the class and train regularly – then a few weeks in they start to get a niggling injury – maybe in the foot or shoulder – which aggravates to the point that they are unable to train without pain any longer. Eventually many drop out of their HIIT class altogether.

It’s important to understand that the problem isn’t in the HIIT exercise itself. There’s no doubt that HIIT can play an important part in any workout regime – but for many it is extremely demanding on the body and most people get injured because they lack the adequate strength, mobility or stability in their muscles and joints. Simply put – having someone very deconditioned and immobile and having them do dynamic or high intense exercise is a recipe for disaster. Many people that sign up for HIIT classes and want to get all the benefits in don’t realise that they need a baseline strength before performing the dynamic and intense moves properly and safely.

This even applies for professional athletes, who will incorporate HIIT and plyometrics into their training – but will make sure its not the only exercise modality they do. A carefully programmed training regime will accommodate a limited period of HIIT, but also factor in training to prepare a baseline of fitness and connective tissue resilience in the weeks prior and active recovery and less impactful training following.

The bottom line – don’t jump into HIIT seeing it as a quick fix to “lose weight” or to get fit. Without the prerequisite connective tissue strength and neurological prep, you’re setting yourself up for injury. Train smart, train for the long term goals not the short term.

“Athletes who use HIIT training often gain strength very quickly but tend to lose strength and endurance as their competitive season progresses, often as a result of long term, chronic injuries incurred”

If you are suffering from pain or injuries from your training ; or want to talk to one of our fitness experts on how best to achieve your exercise goals, contact us.

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