Risk of injury can be increased following a period of inactivity commonly seen in the winter months so here are 6 tips for returning to training safely as the weather warms up.
1. Start slow
Don’t be tempted to suddenly increase activity over a short period of time. The rapid increase of load to the tissues can create stress and lead to excessive fatigue and potential damage. Ease into activity and work at slowly increasing the weight, time, intensity or number of sessions that you are training.
2. Strength training
Adding strength training into your training schedule helps to increase tissue tolerance and endurance through loading. Strength training doesn’t just mean lifting weights. Using loaded bodyweight exercises eg squats, lunges and resistance band exercises is an effective way to strengthen your muscles. In recent studies, strength exercises have shown a tendency toward reducing injury rates. It was shown to reduce sporting injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries were almost halved!
3. Appropriate footwear
Correct and supportive footwear ensures your feet are in an optimal biomechanical position, which reduces excessive pressure on the whole body. Research suggests that shoes should be changed every 6 months or 500-800km, but this can depend on a number of factors. Everybody’s biomechanics are different; therefore each individual requires a certain type of shoe. If you are unsure what type of shoe is best for you to consult a health care professional such as a podiatrist.
4. Hydration and sleep
Water provides muscles with energy at a cellular level by assisting with transportation of vitamins and minerals in the body. Not drinking enough water can lead to waste build-up, muscular fatigue, and stiffness. A lack of sleep leads to poor brain function and poor performance. We need adequate sleep for our bodies to repair themselves through protein synthesis and hormone release that occur during sleep cycles.
5. Warm-up and cool down
Warming up prepares the body for activity by increasing your heart rate and the circulation of blood and oxygen to muscles. Cooling down helps decrease heart rate slowly and drain waste build-up in muscles. Preparing properly and following simple routines can make a big difference in preventing post-exercise trauma to muscles and joints. It doesn’t matter how intense or how long you exercise for – a good warm-up and cool down is vital!
6. Listen to your body
If you are excessively tired, fatigued, or in pain, it is your body’s way of telling you to have a break and you shouldn’t ignore these signs. Rest is an important recovery component of any training program. There are certain situations where “no pain, no gain” is not applicable, and if you continue to train you may be doing more harm than good. Take it slow and have a recovery day. Make sure you are kind to your body and listen to what it is telling you. If you don’t you will find that an injury may be just around the corner.
If you are unsure of where to start with your training or need advice please seek help. We are here to guide you in the right direction and keep you injury free.