Return to Gym – How to Avoid Injuries?
It’s been about a month since Singapore eased circuit breaker restrictions. In the past month, I’ve had an increase in patients who came to the clinic with injuries due to going back to the gym too abruptly. That’s why I am not writing this article in order to let all of you know how we can return to gym without getting injured.
What happens when we stop exercising?
Even though some of us have kept up with exercise at home during the circuit breaker, we would lack the equipment needed to do the resistance training that we normally do. When we suddenly drop the level of activity that we do, it is called detraining. What happens when we detrain?
Research has shown that following a 12-16 weeks of detraining, elite athletes shows a decrease in strength by 19% and their shoulder strength decreases by almost half. This translates to a 300% increase in injury rate upon return to the gym for high intensity exercises!
How to return to gym safely?
I know this sounds cliche, but warming up primes your muscles and joints for activity. It is even more crucial at times when you have detrained. You risk injuring your tendons and joints if you do not warm up properly on your mission to return to gym. Your warm up should focus on mobility and activating your muscles and joints.
Start at lower intensity
You should not rush to come back to your previous level of intensity (amount of weights). Starting at 50% is a much safer point to start with as it allows you to focus more on your form. This makes it much less likely that you get injured. You can then increase the intensity by 10% each week and you should be back at 100% in 5 to 6 weeks.
You should delay restarting jumping, skipping or hopping. These are activities those which put extra strains to your tendons and their bony insertions.
If you have restarted exercise for at least 2 weeks, then you can consider restarting plyometrics. Furthermore, you should still limit these activities to twice a week as these exercises take about 72 hours to recover from.
Take the time to recover
Give yourself at least 48 hours to rest between each exercise sessions. In other words, you can exercise 3 times a week. This will give your muscles more time to rest from the increased load being placed on them.
Do not ignore any discomfort or pain
This is the simplest one and one that people tend to ignore the most. If you’re in pain, it means your body is crying out for help. Do seek help early especially if you just returned to gym.