3 Tips for Returning To Exercise
Its happened to a lot of us…
Motivation is high
We get into a flow with exercise
It could be walking a couple of nights a week
Making sure we get that gym class in
Then a the niggling pain starts and you know there’s an injury brewing that could stop that adrenailne high that we have found again
So we have compiled some simple advice for people to follow to reduce their risk of injury as you safely return to the world of sport and exercise.
1. Ease Back In
- We’re all excited to get back to our sports and exercise but jumping straight back into exercise or movements that you haven’t done in the last few months can increase your risk of injury.
- The basis of our exercise advice in physiotherapy is the principle of graded exposure- this entails doing an easy, low intensity movement with good quality and then gradually building the complexity, intensity or speed of the movement in a step by step process over an appropriate amount of time.
- A practical example of this would be going back to the gym and doing a bodyweight squat then progressing to a goblet squat with a dumbbell or kettlebell, then on to front squats with a barbell and then a back squat with the bar on your back.
- It’s very important to prioritise quality movement and good technique over rushing through poorly performed exercises as the latter can increase your risk of injury. You will also make better progress and build more muscle if you maintain a slow, controlled tempo.
- We also want to make sure that we are easing back in when it comes to our exercise frequency as well.
A return to sports or the gym will mean that you will probably be exposing your body to more stressful stimuli in terms of heavier weights or higher speeds of movement. You will need to build back up to doing more sessions at a higher intensity so starting back with 2-3 sessions a week will be better than going 5-6 times just because we are excited to get back into that sporting environment again.
At Compass Physio, all of our exercise and rehab programs follow this principle of graded exposure and we provide a step by step plan to get you back to the top level of your sport or activity safely and quickly.
2. Work on Change of Direction Exercises
- Twisting and turning to change direction are a huge part of most sports.
- Unfortunately, due to the nature of our day to day activities we tend to spend most of our time moving straight forwards and backwards and up and down. These movements do not prepare us for changing direction at speed on a pitch.
- When sports started up after the last lockdown, we saw alot of ankle and knee injuries due to the fact that people had just been doing straight line running and their home workouts didn’t involve any side to side or twisting movements.
- Our bodies tend to lose efficiency in certain movement patterns when we don’t use them very often.
- This means that when you change direction while sprinting after a ball or another player, your body won’t be able to coordinate the turn very well.
- This could leave you at a bigger risk of injury.
- It will be vital for you to reintroduce twisting, turning and change of direction skills in a controlled, slow paced environment before returning to sports where you need to be able to perform these movements at speed and under pressure.
At Compass Physio we always include exercises in all planes of movement so that you are fit to return to your chosen sport or exercise after an injury or time away from the sport.
3. Prioritise Recovery
- As things open back up, you may find that your life is getting a lot busier.
- It will be more difficult to fit in time to exercise around the busy schedule of the school run, bringing kids to activities and meeting family and friends again.
- As your window for exercise may be a bit tighter, it is very important to avoid sacrificing your warm up and cool down time. Even if you don’t get to do your full workout, you are better off still prioritising those few minutes at the start and end so that you can stay injury free. The longer you stay injury free, the more consistent you can be with your training, which ultimately leads to better results.
- Another area of recovery that may be impacted by a return to pre lockdown activities is your sleep. Getting a decent night’s sleep is one of the most important parts of recovery and studies have shown that athlete’s sleeping between 8-10 hours per night had a much lower risk of injury compared to those getting 6-8 hours per night. Unfortunately we don’t have as much time on our hands as professional athletes so we may not be able to get more than 8 hours every night but making sure good quality sleep is prioritised in your schedule will have you feeling and moving better.
- Nutrition is another key part of recovery and health in general. Sometimes when we don’t have as much time in our schedule we can end up grabbing fast food or lower quality snacks that don’t fuel us as well as a good, balanced meal.
- This is something to be aware of when our schedules become a bit tighter over the coming months. Something we find helpful is to have some food prepped and ready to go in the fridge so that you have an easy, helpful option on your busy days.
- Relaxation and downtime are a huge part of recovery from exercise. During lockdown, many people who have been living their lives at a hundred miles an hour have actually had a chance to rest and relax and their overall health has benefitted hugely from the change of pace. Now that restrictions are easing and we all have busier schedules again, it is important to remember that we should still make time for some relaxed activities such as going for a nice stroll or lying out in the garden (sunshine permitting) reading a book.
At Compass Physio we stay up to date with the latest evidence based research in the area of health and recovery so that we can guide you on the most important things to prioritise when planning your exercise and recovery into your busy schedules.