As lockdown restrictions are lifted and we all start to get back to a new normal, I am sure many of you will be keen to get back to the gym or sports training. For many this will be the first exercise you’ve done since lockdown, and for others it will be a greatly welcomed step-up from all those home workouts you have (or haven’t) been doing.
However, without the right preparation it could all go very wrong, very quickly. When the German Bundesliga was re-instated in May injury rate was almost 3 times higher than it was before lockdown, widely believed to be due to the limited time players had to prepare and build back up to their pre-lockdown levels of performance.
To help you get back to training here are a few tips on how to safely return following lockdown:
For those of you who have been having home workouts, I can almost guarantee you have been training bare foot, and not in your usual training shoes. These shoes are specifically designed to help protect the soft tissues in your feet, ankles and claves from injury. Whilst you have not been wearing these shoes, your body will have adapted to protect these structures in different ways. Before you go back to your usual, pre-lockdown training it is a good idea to start wearing these again, around the house, during your home workouts, and even trying some sport-specific movements (such as pivoting and changing direction). Start off for a short period of time, and gradually increase how long you are wearing them for. This will give the soft tissues time to adapt to your training shoes before you get back to normal training again.
Gradually increase what you are doing
As much as you don’t want to hear it, you won’t be able to go back to the gym or training and pick up from where you left off. Your body will have deconditioned during lockdown, even if you have been doing what you can to keep active. Once the gyms are open and training resumes, start gently, give your body time to get used to training at a higher intensity again, and gradually increase the time you train for and the intensity you work at.
Don’t be lazy with your warm-up
Before lockdown you may have been able to get away with not warming up properly, and although this is never advised, more now than ever it is important to make sure you are ready to start training. This can include some gentle, low impact cardio to get your heart rate up and your muscles warmer, followed by light stretching of the muscles which you are going to be training, and finished with mobility exercises using similar movement patterns to those of the exercises you are planning to do.
Give yourself time to recover
At every level of sport, from beginners all the way through to professional atheltes, you will feel the benefits. For most of you, your body hasn’t been working at gym-intensity since March and now you’re starting to demand more from it. Rest days, stretching, and foam rolling are all things you can do to help your body recover and allow you to train at higher intensities effectively.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, enjoy being back doing something that is an important part of your life. When you’re enjoying training you’re more likely to be using the correct technique, reducing injury risk. If you’re ‘just not feeling it’ then have a rest day, give your body a break and try again. If you aren’t enjoying what your doing you’re more likely to get lazy with technique and form, leading to an injury that could have been avoided. Use your enjoyment to motivate yourself to keep getting better.