In this blog we will explore the best ways in which we can prevent injury and optimise our enjoyment in returning to our favourite sport or pastime after lockdown. Whether its football or golf, powerlifting or taking long walks with friends, we cover top tips that are relevant for everybody no matter how active.
1) Pace yourself
This is probably by far the most important thing to consider. I know we are all desperate to get back to the things we enjoy most but remember we are in it for the long run! (Pardon the pun…). You’ve had months of walking or running endlessly around the same local streets. The last thing you want now is an injury! For many of us, walking has been the only form of exercise for the past several months. Consider that your muscles will have de-conditioned and will not be prepared for what you were used to doing before lockdown. Instead of going back to playing 5-a-side football 3x per week, start with just one session for two weeks, then two for a further two weeks before returning to your normal routine. If you are used to lifting heavy weight in the gym, reduce the weight by at least 30% and ensure you focus on light sets and excellent form as opposed to heavy load for at least 6-8 weeks. The biggest cause of running and weight lifting injury is over-training or a sudden progression in intensity without the gradual introduction of increasing load or volume. The same can be said for any activity, if you’ve only walked a mile a day and then suddenly decide to partake in a 10km walk, overuse injuries may follow. Make sure you gradually increase the mileage over a period of weeks to allow your body to adapt to longer distances in order to stave off overuse injury.
2) Plan ahead
Have a pre-determined outline or itinerary of what you will aim to do when restrictions ease. This might be walking 5km every day with a group of friends, with incremental increases in distance over a 2 month period. Whatever the activity, having a clear plan is key in preventing over-training and avoiding the temptation to do too much, too soon. A plan will also help you to stick to a routine by helping you focus on your longer term goal. This could be to improve your fitness, lose weight, improve your mental health or it may be to make the most from the social benefits of an activity. Whatever your motives, draw up a plan today and place it somewhere where it can’t be avoided!
3) Eat and drink healthy
- Now is the perfect time to set straight your nutrition programme. Good hydration and nutrition are key to muscle recovery and will set you up for the day with plenty of energy, avoiding those unpleasant sugar lows!
- Ensure you drink plenty of water at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Eat regularly, having small portions throughout the day to help stave off hunger and cravings.
- Avoid processed foods and foods with added sugar – this is difficult for many as sugar is highly addictive and our tastebuds become de-sensitised to naturally sweet foods. After 6-8 weeks of cutting out processed foods you should start to enjoy the naturally sweeter things in life again like: milk, bananas, berries and carrots to name a few yum!
- Ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet including: regular protein intake and fibre in each meal, at least 5 fruit or vegetables every day, trying to aim for a variety of colours and keeping saturated fat to a minimum.
- If you are overweight, work out the calories required to maintain your current weight using a simple calculator – click here (the calories needed to sustain your current weight based on your current level of activity). Then try and ensure you meet a 10-20% caloric deficit e.g. if your maintenance calories are 2500, consume a maximum of 2000-2250 per day to start losing weight in a safe and sustainable way. Also, gradually increase your cardiovascular exercise but ensure you follow the principles discussed above to avoid unwanted injury.
- Avoid fad diets that involve you cutting out a particular food group e.g. carbohydrates or fats – these are unsustainable and outright unhealthy! Fats are essential for many bodily functions including regulation and production of several hormones. Carbohydrates are not just an essential component of energy for all cells in the body but are also required for muscle repair and recovery.
4) Sleep well
Getting enough ZZzzzs is crucial in ensuring optimal recovery, especially if you are very active. It will also ensure that you have enough energy in the day to be your best!
- Try and follow a sleep schedule ensuring you go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- Avoid excessive unnatural light before bed as this disturbs the circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin – a hormone released to help maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
- Ensure an optimal room temperature – 16-19°C is ideal for most as recommended by the WHO.
- Avoid heavy meals before bed as this can lead to or worsen acid reflux.
- Ensure you have exercised during the day as this will improve your sleep, but avoid intensive exercise during the 1-2 hours leading up to bed time as this will make you more alert when you are wanting to get some shut-eye.
Well there you have it, 4 top tips for getting the most out of the activities you enjoy as we embark on a graduated return to our normal routine. As restrictions remain in place at the time of writing however, remember to always follow government guidelines and adhere to social distancing as although things are looking highly promising with the current vaccination programme, we’re not out of the woods yet! If you are currently suffering from an injury which is preventing you from returning to your sport or activity, click here to arrange a FREE 15 minute discovery call with one of our expert physiotherapists to see if we can help get you back to being your best!
Alternatively you can call us on: 01276 37670 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org where one of our reception team will be more than happy to help.
As ever, thanks for reading and stay safe!
Ashley Fowler – Clinical Lead