June 24, 2020
As everyone returns to sport, the gym or their exercise programme after the COVID19 shutdown, it is important to consider the principles of injury prevention.
Many of us have been keeping relatively fit by walking and exercising at home, however the sports that we participate in require a greater level of fitness and skill. So, we need to gradually build this, rather than expect to ‘jump’ back in to where we were 3 months ago.
Warm-up is the starting point: – it helps to increase the cardio-respiratory rate and so increase blood flow and oxygen to muscles. Warm-up also increases the range of motion of the joints and soft tissues, and the readiness of the nervous system to respond to movement. Warm-up may include gentle jogging or marching on the spot, and general low-level exercises, plus some specific exercises for your sport.
Then we need to look at training prior to returning to sport – this would include strength training, flexibility, speed, endurance and then specific skill building. The emphasis would vary for different sports, for instance, a power athlete would concentrate more on strength training, whereas a runner or cyclist may do more endurance work.
In some instances, swimming or water-based exercises will be helpful as fitness can be maintained, but with reduced weight through the joints.
Adequate recovery time is then important between training sessions.
Adequate nutrition is needed to maintain energy levels.
Good hydration helps with blood flow to muscles and is thought to help joint fluid and so nourish the cartilage of the joints.
Of course, gentle sustained stretch of each muscle group after exercise helps with the cool down phase.
So, if you are returning to your regular activities and sports, consider all these points – it may be that you need to reduce the time spent exercising e.g. the sets & repetitions of each exercise or the intensity e.g. the size of the weight lifted. You may have to work on which is so important in falls prevention.
Gradually, over a number of weeks, build up your tolerance until your goal is reached.