Returning safely to training after taking time off
With 2020 being a disrupted year due to COVID-19, lockdown, gym closures and changing exercises routines, we have seen a large number of overload injuries as people try make their way back into regular exercise too quickly. You might have even just had a big hiatus from exercise due to life events, new born child or new job, or even just a lack of motivation. It can be intimidating getting back into an exercise and the risk of injury can be high.
When we havn’t exercised for a period of time our bodies decondition. General deconditioning already begins to occur after as little as 2 weeks if your arn’t undergoing any specific activity! You lose cardiovascular capacity as your body becomes less efficient at circulating blood around the body. Muscle changes occur losing strength, power and endurance. Even blood pressure and blood sugar levels will start to increase after just 2 weeks off.
But don’t fret! Experiencing this deconditioning after an extended time off is normal. It’s important to set the right expectations for yourself and know you won’t be exactly the same as where you left off.
So, what are the best ways to start getting back into the swing of it without risking injury?
Take your time and be patient with yourself – Don’t come out the gates full pelt. Progressive loading is key. Start with just a few workouts in the week to allow your body to recovery fully between sessions. Reduce your loads and workout intensity to begin. Don’t expect to be lifting the same weights you were before. Progressively increase your loads by 10% each week and build back up slowly.
Warm up effectively – Having an effective warmup can significantly reduce your risk of injury. Doing slow controlled activation exercises with a band or moving through key movement patterns will help increase blood flow to your muscles and get them activated.
Make sure to cool down – Taking the time post session to cool down is essential. Gentle low intensity work, stretching or foam rolling are a few tools you can use to return your body back to its resting state and help to try reduce muscle soreness as well.
You will be sore, and that’s okay – Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is to be expected after putting your body through loads it hasn’t done in sometime, and it’s a good thing! It lets you know you trained effectively. Peak DOMS often occur up to 48 hours following a workout which is why we leave adequate rest days between sessions when first starting off. No soreness after your session? Then you may be ready to increase your intensity next time round.
Let these tips help guide you as you build back your confidence and return back to training. Your Physios are always here to help guide you if you’re unsure, to help you get back into a routine, set realistic goals and provide safe exercise progressions to get you back to where you want to be.