Safely returning to sport post isolation

Itching to get back…

After isolating for the past two months we have all seen a big change in our routines of exercise and social activities. What this means is that we have had a reduction in the load (the amount of exercise/activity we are doing) we are putting through our bodies and over time we are less conditioned to our regular activities and sport.

With the changing environment and talks of return of local sporting competitions, gyms and exercise classes it is important to have an understanding about HOW to return to these activities SAFELY. While many people have been keeping up their fitness through running, walking and cycling, this does not mean that they are able to jump straight back into their normal ‘pre Covid’ exercise routines. These types of exercise predominantly targets our aerobic fitness. It doesn’t necessarily challenge our strength and muscular system enough to allow us to “walk back” into our exercises game fit or ready to lift weights where we left off!

Common mistakes people make returning to activity:

– Thinking that they can return to the SAME level they finished
– Too much too quickly
– Not enough recovery time in between sessions
– Ignoring niggles; remember just like any new activity we might find ourselves getting stiff or sore after returning to exercise, if these last longer than 24-48hrs post exercise make sure you address it – give your physio a call!

Progressive build up is the key…

Building up our load gradually is important to prepare our body correctly for our activity. This helps our muscles and joints adapt to the activity appropriately and reduces our risk of injury. For example; if you are returning to the gym, do not expect to start lifting weight at the amount you finished at before the gyms closed. Start your first session back at 50% and see how your body responds over the next 48 hours. From there it is a great idea to build up your weights slowly over the following 2-4 weeks.

Be sports specific:

When returning to recreational or competitive sport, there is higher risk of common lower limb injuries to the hamstring, groin, knees and ankles. To reduce the risk of these it is important to do exercises specific to this activity. You should be able to complete a full training session before you hit the court or field. This will reduce your risk of injury significantly!

Tips to get moving:

– Mobility exercises and stretches to limber yourself up
– Plan out your first 4 weeks of exercise
– Set realistic SMART goals

If you are unsure where to start, come in and discuss with your physiotherapist and we can guide you back into your favourite activities!

Written by Cathy Svarc, Physiotherapist and AFLW player