• Home
  • /
  • Fitness
  • /
  • Dr. Darrell Menard, & the 10% rule; March is Nutrition Month! / Mars est le mois de la nutrition !

Dr. Darrell Menard, & the 10% rule; March is Nutrition Month! / Mars est le mois de la nutrition !

Dr. Darrell Menard and the10% Rule

Dr. Darrell Menard

Q: Since high school, I have stayed fit playing a variety of team sports.  I particularly enjoy soccer and basketball.  Eight months ago I tore a ligament in my right knee and needed surgery.  I am recovering well and was told to avoid twisting sports for at least a year.  In an effort to stay fit, I joined a swimming club.  While I am not the strongest swimmer, I am a hard worker and in a short time I was able to significantly increase my swimming distances.  Recently, I developed shoulder pain and my physiotherapist strongly recommended I reduce my training.  Since reducing my swimming distances my shoulders feel much better.  Could you provide some guidance on how to safely progress my future training?  Claude

A: Dear Claude: great to hear that you found a way to stay fit while you recover from your knee injury.  One of the most common mistakes people make when they first take up a fitness activity is to work too hard.  They often begin training too intensely, doing longer workouts than they can handle and doing too many workouts in a week.  Most bodies can only handle a large increase in workload for several weeks before they start to breakdown and the person often ends up injured and frustrated.

To reduce the risk of this happening, fitness experts advise everyone who exercises to follow the “10% Rule”.  This evidence based guideline states you should not increase your training activity more than ten percent per week.  This applies to every aspect of your training – the distances covered, the weight lifted, the intensity of effort and the time spent training.  In your case, if you currently swim 30 minutes/workout, you should not increase next week’s swims to more than 33minutes/workout no matter how good you are feeling.  Following this formula it should take you a minimum of 7 weeks to safely work up to swimming 60 minutes/workout.  This rule is not an absolute and some people find they can only safely progress their training by 5% per week.

The bottom line is that the body needs time to adapt to the stress of exercise whether you are a novice or an Olympic medalist.  Failing to respect this need to adapt will greatly increase your risk of injury. I hope your knee heals well and that you apply the 10% rule to all of your future fitness training.  Exercise is medicine!

Dr. Darrell Menard OMM, CD, MD (former Physical Education Officer at RMC) now a Sport Medicine Physician


The Nutrition Month 2018 campaign is dedicated to Unlock the Power of Food and to help Canadians realize the potential of food to fuel, discover, prevent, heal and bring us together.
The goal of the campaign is to provide information and guidance to assist Canadians in discovering the potential of food to improve health and well-being.

Join Canadians to unlock the potential of food!

Take the Challenge here:  www.NutritionMonth2018.ca  #NutritionMonth


La campagne publique du Mois de la nutrition 2018 a pour objectif d’aider les Canadiennes et les Canadiens à découvrir le pouvoir des aliments et d’aider les gens à voir comment les aliments peuvent nourrir, faire découvrir, prévenir, guérir et nous rassembler.  
Le but de la campagne est de renseigner et de conseiller les gens et ainsi de les aider à découvrir le potentiel des aliments pour améliorer la santé et le bien-être.
Joignez-vous aux Canadiens et découvrez le pouvoir des aliments!
Relevez le défi ici :  www.MoisdelaNutrition2018.ca   #MoisdelaNutrition