Don’t be another injury statistic. If you avoided exercise injury during lockdown, make sure you stay injury-free by not overdoing it when you return to your normal exercise routine.
Exercise injuries rose considerably during lockdown, with £7.2 million Brits suffering an injury while working out at home according to Bupa. Some exercisers who would normally only work out three days a week were exercising every day, partly for mental health as much as the physical benefits.
If you were one of the lucky ones who managed to stay injury-free at home, but you’ve recently returned to the gym, make sure you don’t overtrain. Your enthusiasm for returning to the gym could increase your injury risk if you overdo things. If you’ve not used certain machines for a while it’s understandable that you’ll need to ease yourself back in gently.
On the other hand, if you haven’t worked out much during lockdown, don’t put yourself under pressure to regain your former fitness too quickly. Faisal Abdalla, a London-based personal trainer and NOCCO UK ambassador says: ‘Don’t be afraid of weaknesses. If you’ve lost certain strengths or you’re not good at something like running or flexibility, that’s exactly what you should be focusing on if you want to improve in all areas. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and turn those weaknesses into strengths.’
Trust the process
Faisal also recommends being patient and know that you will see results if you can be consistent with your exercise routine. ‘Trust the process,’ he says. ‘Nothing happens overnight. Just because you don’t see the changes straight away, it doesn’t mean they aren’t being made. Get on the right path and use your commitment to keep you on that path and see it through till the end.’
Make sure you have rest days from the gym and don’t overdo it. Gorka Marquez, a Spanish dancer and choreographer from Strictly Come Dancing says: ‘Avoid injury by taking breaks from the gym every couple of days. Development will be progressive, and you don’t want to jump straight back into a full and intense routine.’
Gorka adds: ‘Start with sessions of no more than 45-60 minutes and go back to the basics. In your first sessions back you should use light weights in order to regain that all-important muscle memory of the movements. Exercise in sets. Try to keep exercises in sets of three to four, performing between 10-12 reps, as they will help you start to build muscle and joint strength.
Foam roller solution
If you find that your muscles are tight and sore, try using the foam roller. Foam rolling helps to reduce muscle pain and increase blood flow, using your body weight to apply pressure to any knots or tight spots.
Known as ‘self-myofascial release’ and previously only used by athletes, more and more active people are now feeling the benefits, too. It’s ideal to do before or after your workout and can really help improve recovery time if you do it after your gym session. Simply find the tight spots in your muscles and move the roller back and forth over that area for up to 60 seconds. Don’t skip stretching just because you’ve used the foam roller. Both are essential if you’re training hard. Most gyms have foam rollers you can use, or you can buy them online from around £15. Try these foam roller moves to reduce muscle soreness.