For most of us it’s been months since we’ve been able to exercise at the gym, and as a result workout routines have fallen by the wayside. As Canada starts reopening its gyms, it’s important to understand how to safely reboot your exercise regime.
Injury Prevention Tips
It’s very easy to injure yourself as you begin working out – even if your body was used to intense exercise prior to the shutdown. Injuries can come in many forms, including:
- Muscle strains
- Joint injuries
At particular risk are the knees and shoulders, and high impact exercise has greater risk than low impact options. Eagerness to get started may mean you want to jump right back on that treadmill, but remember that your body is no longer used to vigorous exercise and has lost some of its elasticity. This is especially true if you have been unable to work out at all during the past few months. To ensure you’re properly taking care of your body as you return to the gym, follow these simple steps:
1. Warm Up and Cool Down
Warming up slowly increases your heart rate, while warming your muscles and joints, and properly prepares your body for exercise. Similarly, cooling down helps your body to recover after a workout, and gently reduces your heart rate in a safe manner.
Stretch after your workout, as it’ll help increase flexibility and decrease the chances of delayed muscle soreness.
3. Vary Your Exercise
Overuse of one set of muscles makes repetitive strain injuries more likely; so as you return to the gym, remember to vary your routine, and do something different each day. Maybe run one day, then lift weights the next, then swim the next.
4. Quality Over Quantity
It’s likely your form has deteriorated as you have been away from the gym, so pay attention to how your body is positioned as you exercise. This is especially important when lifting weights. Make sure you are prioritizing correct form, over simply completing as many reps as you can. Use a mirror, a friend or a trainer to help you keep an eye on your posture.
5. Get Your Health Provider’s Approval
If you have any health concerns, or if you have been inactive for months, it’s a good idea to get approval from your health provider’s before restarting at the gym. If nothing has changed with your health, they will likely just advise you to go slow, but if anything has changed or if you have been sick, ensure you are safe to workout.
6. Pace Yourself
Lastly, remember to pace yourself. Keeping the same level of fitness with home workouts as you had at the gym is nearly impossible, so it’s likely you won’t be in as good a shape as you were a few months ago. Don’t beat yourself up about this; take rests as you need to, and don’t overdo it. An injury will set you back far more than simply going a little more slowly!
If Injury Occurs
If you do find something hurts after a workout, remember to:
● Ice the affected area
● If needed, Wrap the injured area in a bandage or compression wrap
● Rest it
● Take anti-inflammatory or pain killers if required, but do not take continuously without seeing your doctor
● If pain persists, see your doctor or physio
Staying Safe in Public Spaces
Lastly, it’s worth remembering that returning to the gym won’t be business as usual, for anybody. New measures will be in place at all gyms to ensure everyone’s safety. Follow all of the guidelines your gym lays out, wear face masks wherever possible (and remember that sports face masks are available for those engaged in heavy cardio), and sanitize your hands and equipment thoroughly before and after use. It is possible to stay active and healthy, with just a little extra thought!