Easing back into exercise post lockdown
Melbourne and Victoria have experienced 'unprecendented' 'unprecedented' times in 2020. With lockdown lasting longer than most places our habits have changed dramatically. Our routines have been turned on their heads with changes to our work environments, home life, exercise patterns, as well as eating habits. After enduring a long, lockdown winter we are now able to enjoy some of those freedoms we were dreaming of.
If you are looking to return to the gym, or get back into a home routine after a potentially long hiatus over lockdown, it is important that you approach this with caution. After a period of rest or altered exercise routine our body and tissues change and adapt to the new normal. You may have lost strength, altered your posture, reduced your cardiovascular capacity. You are now at a new baseline and as such your return needs to be in line with this new normal and then built upon.
Here are some tips to help you return smoothly and safely to exercise.
1. Firstly think about building your foundation. Your strength foundation and your movement foundation.
- Going back to basics and dropping your previous weights to 50-60% can help ensure your movement patterns are fluid and strong before you start increasing the weight.
- Form first - technique is important to ensure you are loading the appropriate tissues and not adding undue strain on your spine for example.
2. Make sure you include a good warm up and cool down.
- warming up will get the blood running to your muscles ready to get to work.
- performing body weight movements through range will ensure your joints and muscles are ready to load through this range.
- muscle activation exercises prior to strength training or cardio will improve your efficiency and posture.
- cooling down with stretches and gentle movement will help your body go into recovery mode
3. Have rest days and expect some muscle soreness.
- Muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments all take time to recover post loading. 48 hours recovery post loading can help reduce the risk of overload injuries. Planning your week of exercise can help you be prepared.
4. Build gradually.
- Getting back exercising might make you feel all sorts of wonderful, with the endorphins running through your body. Do not get too excited. Slowly build your weights, your volume, your intensity again to limit your risk of overloading. Building one variable at a time by between 10-15% can be a rough gauge, noting that everyone is individual and everyone has had a different lockdown experience. Slow and steady wins the race.
5. Think about how you are fuelling you body. Eating before and after exercise can help you have the energy to perform the training and then recover well. Sleep is also important. Sleep is the best recovery you can do.
6. Consult a health professional, if in doubt, to help guide you and ensure you return safely and consistently.
7. Do not push through niggles. Seek advice. We want to hit 2021 feeling happy and healthy.