Easing Back Into the Gym

How to ease back into the gym to prevent acute injuries after a long delay?

All of us have been affected by the health crisis of 2020. Many of us have been further affected when many of our local businesses were shut down for months, including our local gyms. This pandemic is similar to when an injury can occur which forces us to remain more sedentary while our body heals and recuperates. 

After such a lay off from fitness or activity, it is imperative that we are mindful to not overexert and stress our body and muscles which can lead to reinjury. 

Here are some helpful tips to prepare PRIOR to going back to the gym –

  • Your recovery and ability to return to activity should NOT be an excuse to have poor nutrition. 
    • Monitor your carbohydrates, fats, and protein during recovery to optimize healing
  • If cleared by your physician – perform stretching exercises to the non-injured body part to aid in keep your muscle and joints loose/limber 
  • Drink adequate water to prevent dehydration 
  •  Start with virtual training sessions to increase before you head back to the gym in person
  • DO NOT return to the gym prior to being cleared by your physician
  • Schedule your gym days ahead of time and be consistent.
  • Make sure you have appropriate shoes that offer stability and support. 

Now that you are all prepared and ready to hit the gym does that mean you should return like you never left? Absolutely NOT. 

Here are some things to keep in mind once you do return to the gym – 

  • Slow and steady. 
    • When walking/running the goal should be to set a time limit and gradually increase each day (For example – Day 1 you will run or walk for 10 minutes without any breaks and then Day 2 you will increase that time to maybe 11 minutes and so forth).
  • Focus on the basics if you are lifting weights or doing resistance training. 
    • Quality over quantity.  Use proper form and make sure to ask someone who works at the gym if you are not sure.
  • Leave your ego at the door
    • Increase the weight used and the time spent doing cardio gradually. If you were bench pressing 135 pounds before your time away from the gym maybe start with 50% of that or even less if needed and slowly increase the weight each week by 2-5 pounds. 
  • Sign up for private instructors/classes to aid in increasing your fitness level to where it was.
  • One of the most important aspects to keep in mind is more pain does NOT equal more gain. Understand when you are in pain from your injury vs muscle soreness due to working out.
    •  I cannot emphasize this enough – “listen to your body”

When in doubt – stop and ask your physician, podiatrist, or physical therapist to prevent reinjury.

 

Dr. Sagar Shah works in our Richmond, VA and Colonial Heights, VA offices for your convenience.

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