One great positive to come out of all of this is just how many people are exercising and increasing their physical activity levels.
This morning, as I’ve set up in my temporary home office, sat down with a coffee and answered the weekends emails, I have seen 10 runners, 4 cyclists, 2 couples walking, 4 dog walkers and 2 families out on scooters all pass my window.
And this isn’t a one off. This is a trend I’ve observed growing over the past 6 weeks.
Since the coronavirus upended most peoples lifestyles – including their exercise routines, more and more people of all types are turning to these kind of activities as a way to keep fit and occupied, and at home workouts are becoming more ‘the norm’ for many.
But as you find yourself with extra time on your hands and the urge to channel your boredom and manage your mental wellbeing by breaking a sweat; make sure you’re doing so safely. Because, yes, there is such a thing as ‘too much’ exercise. And overdoing it could actually do more harm than good, pandemic or otherwise.
As mentioned in one of our previous articles we are starting to see an increase in musculoskeletal complaints after being contacted by more people who have started to develop new aches and pains or have seen old issues resurfacing since the lockdown began, simply due to the sudden change of routine and overloading on the body.
So whilst exercise has it’s many benefits both physically and mentally at the best of times and non-more so important than right now; here are our top tips for exercising safely and avoiding injury. Because lets face it, what’s worse than being stuck at home right now? Being stuck at home with back, neck, shoulder or knee pain!
1. Warm Up
When you’re exercising at home or setting off from your own door step it’s very easy to slip into the habit of getting straight into the activity and neglecting a proper warm up. Even very few video based workouts have an adequate warm up and going into something like HITT training without one is an injury waiting to happen.
My tip, start off with some basic dynamic stretches like slow controlled squats, lunges, arm circles and twists from the waist. Even if you’re going for a run or a cycle you will benefit from the right preparation.
2. Make sure you have variety
Whether you prefer running for exercise, lifting weights or a nice long stole, it’s important to incorporate variety into your exercise regime if you want to avoid overuse injuries such as tendonitis and muscle strains. Try getting a mix of cardio and resistance based exercise in your week by combining running, walking or cycling with free weight or body weight exercises or even throw in a video based pilates or yoga class on your living room floor to mix things up.
3. Reduce impact where possible
Think about it. How many jump squats, burpees and thrusters did you have in your daily routine before lockdown? I’m willing to bet not many for the majority of you. So just imagine the ‘impact’ that is having on your joints and muscles when you suddenly put this kind of demand on them. The same goes for running. If you weren’t a regular runner before lockdown you don’t want to be pounding the pavements for 10k or being roped into a 5k challenge straight off the cuff.
Instead opt for a more joint friendly exercise option such as cycling, pilates or video exercise class.
4. Progress gradually
Similar to the above, just because you have the time currently, doesn’t mean you have to start ramping up the frequency or intensity of your physical activity. The same rules of exercise still apply (even amidst a pandemic). If you increase the type, frequency or intensity of the exercise you are doing by too much too quickly, the body will become overloaded – resulting in injury.
Going from 0-100 when it comes to the amount of exercise you are getting is one way to ensure your body ‘breaks down’. So take it easy and as a rule of thumb don’t progress anything, whether it be miles walked, run or cycled or amount of weight lifted by more than 10% a week to give your body time to adapt.
5. Use daily tasks as exercise
If exercising in the traditional sense is new to you and you’re looking for a way to maintain your fitness during lockdown, try using your every day activities as a way to keep fit.
You’ll do far more squats, lunges and reaching in an afternoons gardening or completing a DIY project than you would in most workouts; all without realising it too! Even the daily dog walk or chasing after a child is steps on the meter!
6. Monitor your amount of exercise
One of the main reasons for the injuries we see in the clinic is overuse or overloading. With all this time on your hands you may feel you want to jump on the bike or walk further everyday but just remember rest days are important too and are necessary in order to allow your body to recover from the new increased demands placed upon it.
Also relating to the above; don’t forget your daily activities are exercise too and count towards your daily recommended amount. So if you’ve had an active day round the house or in the garden, don’t over do it by adding in a cycle, run or YouTube workout class.
7. Cool Down
Just as important as warming up (and arguably even more neglected!) is cooling down. This need only be a few light long hold stretches or a stroll to lower the heart rate and return the body back to a pre-exercise state before getting on with the rest of the day; but avoiding this will increase your risk of developing aches and pains. The worst thing you can do after exercise is go and sit in front of the TV or computer.
If you’ve found the information in this article useful and are wondering what else we could help you with? Please get in touch by popping us a message here.
Or if you have found yourself suffering lockdown aches and pains, exercise related or not, check out our Online Video and Phone Appointment Service.
Stay Safe. Keep Moving.