And, according to the research conducted by leading physiotherapy provider Physio Med, over-ambitious exercise plans could give employers a headache as staff face long lay-offs with musculoskeletal injuries.
Physio Med surveyed its 2000 strong-network of Chartered Physiotherapists across the UK, to find out more about the reasons behind the biggest cause of long term sickness absence in the UK.
It found that requests for physiotherapy appointments increase dramatically in March and April, with 89 per cent of the physiotherapists that responded naming injuries related to exercise and sport as one of the most common reasons for people to seek treatment at this time. Other less common causes include work related injuries, DIY, gardening and even road traffic accidents.
The spike in appointments in March and April can be attributed to the increase in over-eager fitness enthusiasts and sporting novices embarking on a New Year health kick. Asked what the most common cause of fitness related injury was, the physiotherapists reported that 49 per cent were caused by people overestimating their ability and pushing themselves too far, with 27 per cent citing lack of proper instruction on correct fitness techniques or gym equipment and 12 per cent blaming a failure to warm-up before exercising.
Unsurprisingly, the three most common injuries resulting from ill-fated fitness campaigns are lower back pain, followed by neck or upper back pain and shoulder pain.
Mark Fletcher, Clinical Director at Physio Med, said: “Musculoskeletal injuries are currently the number one reason for long-term sickness absence in the workplace, and in the current climate that is bad news for both businesses and employees.
“We may be well into 2012 now, but our physiotherapists are continuing to see the effects of over enthusiastic New Year fitness campaigns, as their appointment books fill up with new injuries.
“Within the healthcare industry we obviously encourage physical exercise but a sudden increase in physical activity – such as a new fitness campaign – should always be approached with caution. To avoid workout injuries and therefore time potentially laid up and unable to work, it’s important to start a new regime slowly, take advice and build up the intensity of activity gradually.
“Misuse of gym equipment, mistakes in exercise techniques, failing to warm-up and just taking on too much too soon, will put would-be fitness enthusiasts a high risk of pulling a few muscles – or creating longer term complaints such as tissue damage and joint injuries.”