As COVID-19 precautions gradually lift, society is starting to get back into the swing of things. Some of those ‘things’ include our long-awaited physical activity like getting our money’s worth from that gym membership, taking fitness classes, and participating in organized sports once again. As an orthopaedic practice, we are definitely fans of maintaining an active lifestyle for health and wellness. However, we are also very aware of the injuries that can result from going 0-90 overnight with no preparation. If you are gearing up to return to CrossFit, soccer, or your favorite running club, we recommend that you proceed with sensible caution.
If you utilized your ‘Shelter at Home’ time largely to catch up on books, movies, and puzzles, we encourage you to ease back into your favorite activities slowly. Cardio and strength training are great, but if you try to pick up right where you left off almost three months ago, you are likely to sustain injury. Your best case scenario would likely be several days of needing assistance to get out of a chair with the worst case scenario being tendon rupture, muscle strain, or fracture. Most often the damage is in the realm of tendinitis or stress fracture from doing too much too soon.
When you return to your activity, do not skimp on the warm-up. Taking the time to warm up your muscles could save you great anguish in the long run. The benefit of light calisthenics should not be underestimated-jog in place, lift your knees, kick your butt, and get those arms swinging before you jump into the meat and potatoes of your workout. We suggest that you then begin your preferred workout gradually with slower pace, lesser distance, lighter weight, and fewer repetitions. Easing into the activity will help strengthen your muscles and allow them to better accommodate the increase in activity without injury. Limiting your activity to every other day at first will help your body re-adjust to the activity as well as allow the musculoskeletal system time to rejuvenate and recover between workouts. The 10% rule when running is also a wise option. You should only increase your mileage from week to week by 10% of the previous week.
Incorporating run-walk intervals into your workout can also help gradually build your endurance. Spending a few minutes cooling down once you have conquered the day’s exercise can also be a useful tool in injury prevention. Take some time to walk a few laps, reach for your toes, and try out a downward dog pose or two. You can use the time spent stretching to catch up on all of the social interaction that has been lacking in our days!
In addition to easing back into activity, varying your activity is also recommended. If you have been chomping at the bit to return to your favorite morning Zumba class, ask your cronies if they would be willing to try out a yoga class or a water aerobics class one day each week. Changing up your movement allows some muscles to get a chance to work while other muscles get a breather. This strategy allows you to get daily fitness while still protecting yourself from overuse injuries.
Though children tend to be more resilient than adults, easing them back into their respective sports should be considered. If your child pitches for his or her baseball or softball team, have a discussion with the coach regarding pitch count and adequate rest in between outings. Those elbows and shoulders can tire out. Fatigue leads to injury in young bodies. We wouldn’t want your child missing out what little amount of the season remains.
We are itching to get active just as much as everybody else but not at the expense of spending a minute of this beautiful weather inside at the doctor’s office for what could have been a preventable injury. With some patience and care, you can maximize the nice summer weather achieving your fitness goals without pain slowing you down. If you do find yourself feeling rather gung ho and subsequently paying the price, our Ortho ASAP clinic is operating in its full capacity once again!