Have you prepared yourself for a return to sport and exercise?
Due to restrictions over the last few months, many of us have had to stop doing the exercise and activies that our bodies are used to. Now, as gyms and golf courses reopen and competitive sport resumes, what can we do to reduce the risk of overdoing it? We’ve pulled together some top tips on how to prepare and repair as we get back into our favourite activities…
Tip 1 Check Your Posture
With a number of us working from home or remaining indoors there is a tendency to get into a slouched posture for extended periods of time. Staying in this position over time can affect your ‘normal’ standing posture and cause issues relating to rounded shoulders and an arched back. Poor posture when trying to do exercises can limit the function and movement of the joints and in some cases could increase the risk of injury so checking your posture and fixing any issues is a key starting point.
To start with, film yourself standing up straight with your arms naturally hanging down. You want shots from both sides and front and back to try and get a full picture of your posture. Pay particular close attention to the following areas:
From the front and back you are looking to make sure all these areas are at the same level on your left and right side - any major differences make a note as it may be that you have some muscle imbalances on one side of your body compared to the other.
From the sides, imagine a straight line running vertically through you to the floor. All the areas mentioned should be on this line, if one or more areas is either in front or behind this line then take note and try fix that part to make sure you can get back to this ideal standing posture position. An example of a fix is if your shoulders are forward you will tend to find the angle of your sternum is pointing down towards the ground, if you concentrate on keeping this point parallel to the ground or even pointing slightly upwards you will find the shoulders naturally come back.
Once you have been able to get into the ideal posture, the key is to maintain this which could be anything from strengthening the weak muscles or keeping the joints mobile it will be all very specific to what your starting posture is.
Tip 2 Use a support if needed
For the majority of minor muscle niggles the benefits of continuing to keep active far outweighs stopping. By using a support not only can it give you the confidence to keep going, but also it may actually help you keep doing the activity correctly rather than in an unnatural movement. If there is pain on movement then naturally we will try to avoid that motion which can then put further strain on areas that are not built to work with that movement. Neo G has just brought out a new Active Range of supports which are designed to provide more support than our current Airflow range but without limiting movement and breathability so they are perfect to help you stay active. The compression of the support will give you the confidence to complete your activities whilst not limiting movement patterns so you can still run, jump or swing correctly.
Tip 3 Warm up and cool down correctly
This is key regardless of how long you have had off from sport or exercise. A good warm up primes the body for the activity ahead while a cool down will help prepare the body for future events. A warm up should consist of a period of light activity to bring the body temperature up and get the blood circulating to the muscles - this could be as simple as jogging on the spot or some star jumps. This should then be followed by dynamic stretches where you are stretching through movements that you will be doing in your exercise. As an example, arm circles and rotations of your body would be good for golf.
Following on from these stretches, look to do a lower impact version of movements for your selected activity so in the golf example this may be doing a few practice swings but at around 50% speed. In other environments it may be doing the exercise but with body weight or a very light weight. It is all about priming the body for the activity to come but without fatiguing the muscles.
For the cool down, the idea is to return the heart rate to around your resting rate - depending on the activity your heart rate may already be at this level after you have finished, but if you have been doing something intense it is advised that you slowly bring down your heart rate this could be by going down from a run to light jog to walk. Stopping too soon from an intense activity can in some cases cause your blood pressure to drop quickly and a risk of fainting. Once your heart rate is under control then go through a series of static stretches for the muscles that you have worked holding each for around 30 seconds. This is also a great time to add in any stretches that you have been advised to do for posture as well.
Tip 4 Don’t do too much too soon
Although you may have kept active doing different activities while waiting for you favourite sports to be given the green light, your body effectively becomes a novice again so don’t expect to be lifting PB’s in the gym or shooting your lowest scores on the golf course in the first week or so of returning. In fact, trying to do what you did before if your body is unable to safely handle the strain put on it is a recipe for disaster a likely to result in a further period of time away from your chosen sport or activity.
Monitor what weights you are using in the gym and slowly progress over time making sure you can handle the weights rather than the weights handling you. For example, on day 1 don’t try and do 3 rounds of golf when you haven’t hit a ball for months. For competitive team sports replicating the intensity of a competitive environment in training is really difficult so for these individuals listening to your body is crucial especially if your sport has a fixture backlog. As we saw with elite sport when that returned there was an increase in the number of muscle injuries when there wasn’t a sufficient rest period between competitive fixtures.
Tip 5 Enjoy being back
Most importantly, enjoy being back and doing the activities that you love. Doing something physical that you enjoy can have a huge mental health benefit and although it may still not be completely the same as before or be outdoors instead of indoors, keeping active is always better than being sedentary.
Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed the blog.
Relevant blog articles:
Simple stretches to support your lifestyle: Read more
Improve posture and help prevent back problems: Read more
Hints and tops for injury recovery: Read more
Our Active range of knitted supports provide a snug, yet flexible fit during sporting and occupational activities. Multi Zone Compression surrounds muscles and joints for targeted support and the multi-way stretch allows flexible and safe movement, providing comfortable support and reducing the likelihood of injury. The specialist breathable fabric helps control moisture during intense activities, whilst the slimline, lightweight design means it can easily be worn under clothes for everyday wear.
Our VCS range offers varying levels of support from mild to moderate to firm to provide optimum protection and stability. As a one size solution, these supports are fully adjustable to allow for a custom fit. In addition to this, the heat therapeutic neoprene helps to warm muscles and joints during exercise and rehabilitation, making the VCS range perfect for supporting instability during weights and gym training, as well as helping strains, sprains and weak, arthritic joints.
If its rest and recovery you need, our hot and cold therapy range offers just that. While heat therapy helps to target muscle and joint pain by relaxing muscles and improving blood flow, cold therapy works to tackle muscle swelling, soothing aches and pains.
Read more in our full Hot & Cold Therapy post.