Advice from a Physiotherapist:
Considerations Before Making a Hasty Return to Sport or the Gym
So the good news is, the recent changes to lockdown rules in the UK mean we are all allowed to return to many of the physical activities we love. But here’s the catch. Is your body ready?
The lockdown drastically changed the vast majority of peoples' exercise routines. For some, this actually meant an increase in steps walked or miles ran. For others, motivation was low and stress was high resulting in a more sedentary few months.
Having endured a long winter with the gyms closed and organised sports on hold, it’s no surprise that many of us will be eager to get back in the gym or out playing our favourite sport.
We’ve put this article together to help you to understand why a hasty return to all of your activities might result in injury and importantly, how to avoid it.
What happens to our bodies when we cease our normal training?
In professional sport, we often see the highest peak of injuries in the early part of the respective season. Why is that? Shouldn’t the athlete be “fresh”?
Whilst rest days are encouraged in any sensible training program, prolonged periods of inactivity lead to physiological changes within the body. Within the first few days, your resting heart rate will increase and you’ll begin to lose endurance. Within the first few weeks, your muscles will begin to lose size and strength as a result of limited stimulus.
To put things simply, fatigue and residual weakness drastically increase your chances of injury. As a result of the lockdown, unless you’ve managed to keep up your previous training routine with home workouts, there’s every chance that you’ll be risking an injury by trying to dive straight back in.
“But I’ve been running.” – This is the most frequent response we hear in clinical practice and although running is a fantastic way of maintaining endurance and to a degree, some muscular strength, in comparison to playing football or deadlifting at the gym, it falls short of the mark.
So, how can I avoid injury and return to the gym or sport safely?
The key to avoiding injury is physical preparation. Being prepared requires an investment of time. Time spent improving your strength and conditioning in respect to the demand your sport/activity is likely to put onto the body.
We know many of you will be eager to get back to some form of training right away, and you can, so long as you incorporate a few actionable points to help you avoid injury. Let’s take a brief look at some popular sports, a common injury sustained during play and our recommendations on how to avoid it:
Common injury: Lower Back Pain
How to avoid it: Core strengthening, mobility drills, technical coaching
Common injury: Ankle Sprains
How to avoid it: Balance training, multi-directional movement drills, resistance training
Common injury: Shoulder Impingement
How to avoid it: Appropriate mobility, balance training program, progressive overload
Common injury: Achilles Tendinitis
How to avoid it: Adequate aerobic base, resistance training, correct running form
Field Sports (Hockey, Netball, Football & Rugby)
Common injury: Hamstring strains
How to avoid it: Resistance training, high-speed running drills, adequate recovery
As alluded to above, the type of conditioning required differs from sport to sport. However, the commonalities in which we most certainly advocate are resistance training, building an aerobic base, sport-specific movement and adequate recovery.
How can Remedy help?
All of this may seem like a lot to those who take a more leisurely approach to their sports. However, the forces exerted on your body hardly differ. You’re still susceptible to injury and after all of the excitement and relief of being able to return to your sport or the gym after lockdown, the last thing you’ll want is to have to sit it out again whilst you recover.
It’s for this reason that we are on hand to help you prevent an injury from occurring in the first instance and to offer the most efficient evidence-based rehabilitation methods should you need treatment.
Our services include:
Based at a state of the art gym local to Remedy with one of our highly qualified practitioners. We can tailor each program to meet the demand of any sport or activity.
If your sport involves running, there’s a good chance you’d benefit from having your running form assessed. Poor strength or flexibility could be an injury waiting to happen.
Sports massage is an integral part of any recovery program. Available in both 45 and 60-minute formats to suit the individual.
If you are unfortunate enough to have sustained an injury, we are here to help rehabilitate you. One of our expert physiotherapists will be on hand to help you: from initial assessment to a full return to sport.
Final Note: Good Luck & Remember to Enjoy it!
General encouragement of participation in physical activity is a fundamental principle here at Remedy. So we wish you luck in getting back to doing what you love safely and comfortably. Most importantly, remember to enjoy it and have fun. Physical exercise is as much about exercising our mental health, social wellbeing and getting outdoors as it is hitting personal bests and bouncing back to previous form.