Gyms are back open and many of us are eager to get back into our usual fitness regimes. Before you resume your workouts, consider what you can do for your body to prevent injury.
The much anticipated time has come for the gyms in Regional Victoria to reopen. No doubt many of you are ready to move your home workouts back into the gym to join group classes, personal training sessions or simply carrier out your own workouts with all the equipment at your disposal.
Whether you’ve been keeping up your fitness during the restrictions or getting back to the gym after a break, during this transition period, you’re more vulnerable to injuries such as muscle strains, joint pain or ligament sprains. This may simply due to being out of form or pushing harder than usual thanks to some healthy competition.
5 tips to prevent injuries
To prevent injuries from occurring or re-aggravating previous injuries as you get back into your usual gym routine, take a look at these tips from our osteopath team.
1. Warm-up and cool down
Warming up with a light jog or dynamic stretching such as leg swings, squats or power skipping can help to increase flexibility and improve the blood flow to your muscles and joints. These are much more effective than static stretching as a warm up, especially when it comes to injury prevention.
After your workout, cooling down can help to reduce that post-exercise soreness. You know the feeling where you struggle to sit down without grimacing? Gentle stretching or light walking helps to eliminate waste products produced by your muscles during exercise. This is then replaced with nutrient and oxygen as you cool down and replenish your muscles.
2. Progress gradually
Progressing your exercise is vital to build strength, challenge yourself and meet your fitness goals. If you’re coming back to the gym after time off or increasing the intensity of your workouts, focusing on progression is an important part of injury prevention. Yes, that means you may not be able to bench as much as you did pre-COVID restrictions or complete as many sets initially.
Doing too much too quickly, when your body isn’t conditioned to do it, can lead to injury. In addition, heat exhaustion can be a common complaint if you haven’t sustained the fitness level required for the intensity you’re working at.
3. Use the correct technique
Getting back into working out at the gym may seem like riding a bike, but it’s easy to loose form. Even subtle changes to your technique can leave you vulnerable to sustaining an injury. It may be worth exercising under the guidance of a qualified personal trainer as you get back into your regular gym workouts or join a class where a trainer can assess the way you are moving.
Using the correct technique decreases your risk of injury as it means you will be loading through the correct muscles and joints. If you have experienced an injury in the past, these is even more imperative so you don’t experience a flair up.
4. Focus on stability as well as endurance and strength
Often when we hit the gym our focus is on our gains, whether that’s how much we can lift or how fast we can run on the treadmill. As we age, it’s equally as important to think about our stability and balance due to the natural decline we experience. If you’re a senior this is particularly important in not only preventing muscle and ligament injuries, but falls.
As above, seeking the guidance of a qualified personal trainer can help to ensure you’re not neglecting these fundamentals. Alternatively, combining your gym sessions with a class focused on balance and stability, like Exercise Physiologist Sarah Healy’s Outdoor Movement Class, can be very beneficial.
5. Don’t ignore your body
The old ‘Solider On’ campaigns of pushing past the pain and discomfort goes against the basic rule of listening to your body. Joint aches and pains during or after exercise is not just a sign that you’re out of form. It’s also may be a key indication that you have sustained an injury or experiencing an imbalance through the body that may lead to an injury while you are exercising.
While it can be tempting to push through with the mantra “no pain, no gain” running through your head, it’s more helpful to stop and consider the messages your body is telling you. Consider increasing your recovery time or asking for help. Make an appointment to see a professional who can conduct a thorough assessment, treatment and create a management plan. If you have an injury that isn’t being managed and rehabilitated correctly, you run the risk of further aggravation or increasing the severity.
How can Whole Body Health help with injury prevention?
Gaining the correct advice can help minimise your risk of injuries occurring. Appropriate treatment can also improve your recovery time, meaning you can get back to your fitness program sooner.
We have a range of services and activities at Whole Body Health & Wellness that can help keep your body functioning optimally as well as manage existing conditions.
- Osteopaths encourage the body’s healing processes and work to decrease tenderness, increase your range of motion and reduce muscle tightness. Our team not only treat sports injuries, but also address underlying issues and give you an individualise management plan to help prevent further aggravation and enhance your recovery. Book your appointment here.
- Exercise physiologists offer exercise-based injury treatment that is tailored to your individual needs. Offering injury prevention strategies in addition to your management plan, exercise physiologists can help reduce the risk of re-injury and help minimise your recovery time. Book your appointment here.
- Our Walking groups in both Ocean Grove and Manifold Heights can be a great addition to your gym program by providing light activity that allows you to recover in between more intense sessions. See more about our free walking groups here.
- Our Older Adults Movement Class is a great way to improve your balance and stability to ensure you’re moving optimally and to reduce your injury risk. Find out more about this outdoor class here.
- Pilates Classes are osteopath led and is a great way to not only improve strength, flexibility and balance, but also help to reduce muscle and ligament injury. More info coming soon!