Injury Prevention When Returning to the Gym!
Although injury prevention is something that we should be mindful for, it’s especially true nowadays.
COVID 19 has thrown the world into the dark ages.
Our routines have been shattered and therefore our health has suffered from it. The situation has made it far too easy to sit at home, watch Netflix and order takeaway (given restaurants were closed). It was so easy to stay in track pants, grab the food and return to binge-watch a favourite series.
For the motivated few that have remained faithful, their lives consisted of home workouts, makeshift weights and online workshops reliant on a good screen and internet connection.
But the time has now come…..
From 13 June 2020, restrictions in New South Wales lifted to allow gym doors to open, and motivation is high! People are pulling out their activewear and scrambling through drawers to find their shakers, ready to say goodbye to their iso-bulge.
Before you rush to pick up the weights, rejoin your favourite high-intensity class buddies, set new records, or dive into five or six days worth of training, don’t make these mistakes, as you may return quickly to the couch. This time with new or aggravated injury for weeks, if not months at a time.
Know Your Trouble Spots
Nobody knows your body as you do. The injuries and accidents you have had in the past could still be there. Have you continuously rolled your ankle? Have you hurt your back lifting five years ago? Or injured a shoulder in a car accident?
Although at the time you took the right steps and the symptoms subsided, now is the time to build the strength around the injury. If you’re asking “how do I work on an injury?” then I can point you to the following allied health professionals for advice.
- East Gosford Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre have “great experience treating a diverse range of medical problems and chronic injuries”.
- Conveniently Active Exercise Physiology – Central Coast. Rhiannon is the founder and provides exercise therapy for people suffering from chronic pain, injury & illness. Build a solid foundation so that it’s upwards from here.
Ease Into Training
We all know that going from zero to one hundred kilometres an hour is a Red flag. For some, it’s blowing the dust off the joints. For others, it’s finally down to business. Look at the intensity and frequency of physical activity for at least the first few weeks of training. A good rule of thumb is to commit to:
“Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous-intensity physical activity.” Australian Government Department of Health. (2019).
Don’t Know Where to Start?
No matter the starting point, there is always an option for you out there. Find an exercise that is suitable for you. Something that caters to what you enjoy, the level of intensity you can withstand and appropriate age group. Options that could be considered are walking, fitness classes, yoga, swimming or boxing to name a few.
Explore physical activity with Do More (https://do-more.live/). Do More was founded by Dr Ash Bowden; a doctor who understands the importance of physical exercise and wants to give it to you at the touch of your fingers.
Check out your local areas that provide everything from horse riding to paddleboards, yoga to fitness, martial arts, abseiling, swimming and much more!
Warm-up and Cool-down
It’s not what you think. Some people make the mistake of going for a run or something to get the heart racing. Whilst increasing blood flow is a part of it, from specific focus comes specific results. We need to focus on the muscles and movement we are about to participate in. Check out this list of mistakes.
Mistake #1: Static Stretching BEFORE You Start.
Static stretching is holding a certain stretch still for a period. Think of a rubber band. The warmer the rubber band, the more stretchy the band is and the more snap you get. Muscles work the same way. We want to increase blood flow by actively using the muscles. Think of calf raises rather than a calf stretch, or shoulder circles instead of an across the body arm stretch.
Mistake #2: “30 Seconds and I’m done.”
Too often, being time-poor is the main contributor to this such as “I only have X minutes to get a work out in.” A few awkward static stretches (as above) held for five seconds, some small body jumps and you are off. This is not a warm-up and leads to injury. A good warm-up can be ten minutes. Starting off slow with low intensity, and working your way up progressing your movements specific to your activity.
Mistake #3– Tailor Your Warm-up to Your Workout
Starting with a full body warm up, preparing the Central Nervous System, prepping the muscles and increasing your blood flow is great. But let’s dig a little deeper. Are you stiff from working behind a desk or standing for long periods? Do you need to spend a little specific time working problems areas or catering to existing injuries? If your work out has a lot of squats and your lower back is feeling tighter than usual, spend some extra time mobilising your hips and spine. Does your walk have a few extra hills? Try some ankle circles.
Mistake #4– Cool Down. That’s the Cold Drink Afterwards Isn’t it?
Finally, you have finished your exercise. As the warmup is important to get everything fired up, similarly a cool down is just as important. A drastic change in our body is never going to be good and in this case, it is important for injury prevention. You want to gradually return to your pre-exercise heart rate, aiming for the same ten minutes. Work on low-intensity exercise, keep the body moving and then finish with some static stretching. For an extra bonus, add in slow and controlled breathing when stretching. Not only will this help deepen the stretch, but it will also allow for some mindful moments.
Listen to Your Body
Whether it’s before the workout, during or after, “no pain, no gain” is often a misused analogy. Even for the first few weeks back, allow yourself to become familiar with the environment, the routine and strain, both physically and mentally. In addition, tread carefully on the high intensity, high impact. Although there will be some people that are hitting goals returning to the gym after isolation, and you may find yourself making comparisons to them and also to where you used to be. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon. Run your own race. A process called “progressive overload” is how programs work. As long as you are doing more than yesterday, you will be better.
Find an Expert
For every question, there is an answer! Find the right person qualified to answer your questions. If you want to run, find a coach that can help with programs specifically for running and increasing your time, speed and/or endurance. If you want someone who trains people like you with issues that you have, reach out and ask. Not only will you have an expert that understands what it is that you need, but you will also be surrounding yourself with a community that is similar, and immersing yourself in a group that will support you. For example, Strong Mums is a fitness group that works closely with a women’s physiotherapist to help mums be strong inside and out, often talking about taboo topics that majority of mums have but don’t speak about. Bulletproof Dad works with fathers to become the partners and fathers that they want to be through mindset, fitness and accountability. We are who we surround ourselves with.
Taking Ownership of Your Health with Recovery
Personally, I find recovery to be the most important. Yes, listening to your body is great when something doesn’t feel right, however, it’s also knowing how to help. Recovery is the prevention, rather than fixing the broken. We are talking about an increase in water to replenish fluids, proper nutrition to help rebuild muscle, and also a focus on soft tissue repair.
Repeated use of muscles can cause restrictions in our soft tissues. Even something as simple as walking uphill, incorrect technique or carrying a bag can cause issues. Headaches, “niggles”, aches and some conditions can be caused by our muscles however there are ways to work on these areas. Stretching after workouts, having a routine to take you through a full-body regime (think yoga. Our go to place is yogacentralcoast.com), foam rollers (Check out the Foam roller checklist), and of course some targeted Remedial Massage. If you would like to find out which can help you, take advantage of our ten minute free injury prevention call.
As abs are made visible from the kitchen, muscles are made in your sleep. Although pumping iron, exercising and moving works the body, muscle repair happens at night. Not only does it help with recovery, but it fuels you for the next day. We all know the feeling of having little or broken sleep. We feel lethargic and not able to concentrate therefore this doesn’t allow for a great performance when working out, it also increases the risk of injury.
Why not check out the Bedtime Checklist from 1 Click Counselling to help you get the best sleep possible!
KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) injury prevention can go as deep as you want down the rabbit hole, but basically:
1. Start with a solid foundation, work on your weak points to become strong points;
2. As you follow your exercise regime and your progress, make sure that your recovery matches the output;
3. No matter the intensity, look after your soft tissue and sleep;
4. If it’s painful, then stop, think, get it treated and get it stronger;
5. Injury Prevention is better than rehab: and
6. Be better than you were yesterday, even if that’s slowing down.
Diploma Remedial Massage
Diploma of Fitness