As the holiday season winds down, and the calendar rolls over into the next year, gyms and health clubs fill up. People set goals to lose weight, get in shape, or just work off the few extra pounds they put on during all the celebrating. While getting more exercise and physical activity is great for health, energy levels, sleep, and mood, ramping things up too quickly can lead to pain, injury and disappointment if the body isn’t ready for it.

Physical therapists can play an important role in preventing injuries as people start working towards their goals for the new year. As movement experts, PTs can assess strength, range of motion, balance, coordination and functional movement patterns – think squatting, running, jumping or lifting.

Many common injuries from new fitness routines are caused by underlying weakness, range of motion deficits, or compensatory movement patterns that a PT will find during an assessment. They’ll then prescribe exercises or movements to address these issues and prevent them from becoming injuries that put new exercisers on the sidelines.

The other common way people get injured while working towards their resolution is with overtraining, or doing too much too soon. Physical therapists are also experts in exercise prescription and program design. They can help create a routine specific to an individual’s needs and goals that will progress appropriately and keep them out of trouble.

For fitness related new year’s resolutions, an ounce of prevention can really be worth a pound of cure. A visit to a physical therapist before starting a new routine can keep people healthy, injury-free, and on the right path to meet their goals for the new year!