With gyms up and down the country reopening this weekend, countless people are gearing up to restart their fitness regimes. After months of living room floor workouts, zoom classes and social media fitness challenges, the joy of returning to the gym is finally here for many.
But before you rush back to the treadmill, book into a spin class or reacquaint yourself with the squat rack just yet, you might want to consider some of our top tips to avoid picking up unwanted injuries along the way.
During the lockdown, many of us have been much more sedentary, slumped in front of Netflix or working from kitchen tables and makeshift desks. Those of you that have been finding ways to workout have been exercising in ways that you weren’t previously. All this leads your body to become unaccustomed to the activities of the gym and leaves you susceptible to developing aches and niggles that can hamper your big comeback!
Follow our expert advice below and avoid these common mistakes when making your return to the gym.
1. Find a ‘New Normal’ (Well a new starting point anyway!)
Thats right, one of the biggest mistakes in returning to the gym after any lengthy break is expecting to pick up exactly where you left off and usually results in a visit to see us. Even if you have been exercising over the past few months; unless you’ve got a full gym set up in your garage, your body will need time to adjust to running on a treadmill or lifting that 100kg barbell on the bench press again.
Start your first session back by finding a ‘new normal’, a comfortable weight to lift or distance to run and begin to progress back up as the weeks go on.
2. Gradually Increase Activity Level
When returning to exercise or looking to increase and progress your workout routine it is advised to do so gradually. that is if you want to avoid overloading your joints and soft tissues and developing overuse conditions such as joint pain and tendonitis. For example, when aiming to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting, your intensity or duration on the treadmill or simply the frequency in which you visit the gym; it is advised that you do so by no more than 10 percent each week until you reach your new goal.
Progressing gradually also allows you to strength your tendons, ligaments and smaller stabilising muscles to avoid your body breaking down before you even get going!
3. Don’t Neglect Your Warm Up
As mentioned above; many of us have been more sedentary since lockdown began and months working from home away from the ergonomic desk set ups at the office will have taken its toll on your body and mobility resulting in increased stiffness and deconditioning to the types of exercise you were doing the last time you were in the gym. Ensure you factor in enough time at the beginning of your workout to warm your body up properly and work on some gentle mobility exercises to avoid developing muscle and joint pains. Our tip would be to go through a thorough foam roller routine to limber up before you begin.
4. Mix Things Up
Variety is the spice of life and the same is true when it comes to the type of exercise you do. One of the easiest ways to pick up an overuse injury is to repeat the same type on exercise over and over, wether that be bicep curling in the squat rack or going round and round like a hamster wheel on the treadmill. Varying the types of exercise you do can help prevent overuse injuries by allowing your body to use different muscle groups and not overload any one particular area of the body.
Try mixing your gym visit up with a combination of cardio and free weight exercises and throw in some extra core for good measure too.
5. Train Your Full Body
Make sure that you perform exercises that target all areas of the body and not just the ‘mirror muscles’.If your gym doesn’t have a round shouldered ball of muscle (usually in a vest) with chicken legs strutting around the weights section, you may want to take a look in the mirror as theres a high likelihood that it could be you!
Jokes aside, overtraining certain larger muscle groups like the chest and shoulders can lead to imbalances in the body resulting in postural issues and impingement. It can also affect the amount of weight that you are able to lift too! Before you start, make sure that you have a well round workout plan that focuses on all areas of your body.
6. Exercising after Covid
For those of you that have been unfortunate enough to have had Covid or suspect that you may have had the virus, you may need to take extra precautions when initiating a new exercise regime. With such a new virus the full after-effects are still being understood. One of the main side effects beginning to be seen more and more however is post-viral fatigue. This can affect your body in many ways like keeping up with activities at the level you did before. Start by exercising little and often. Just aim to do a little more gradually each time. Work to your own pace and don’t try to ‘keep up’ with others. Remember to plan in rest days for adequate recovery too.
So enjoy your return to the gym as doors reopen this weekend, stay safe and avoid the common mistakes above …
… and remember “Snap” is the name of a gym and not a sound your body should be making!!
If you would like us to give you the once over for extra peace of mind before returning to the gym or would like some help developing a well rounded exercise routine then please get in touch and we’ll help you choose a service that suits you.
If you’ve found the information in this article interesting and are wondering what else we can help you with? Then please feel free to get in touch with us here at the clinic.