Many of us have experienced a delay in our sports and activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year. While some have been able to continue physical activity and training, many have fallen out of a regular fitness routine. As teams and organizations are starting to resume training, games and competitions, you may be eager to get back to your previous level of training and performance. Before you jump right back in, make sure you know the best tips and tricks to help reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance.
Before you train or compete, start with a longer dynamic warm up for 10-20 minutes. A dynamic warm-up consists of a series of movements that slowly build up intensity. This helps increase your heart rate and blood flow while getting your muscles ready for a successful workout. Some great dynamic warm up exercises include:
- Walking lunges
- Jumping jacks
- Leg swings
In the first one to two weeks of getting back into your activity, it’s important to focus your energy into more aerobic activities and drills. This means lower threshold “cardio” activities that use your large muscle groups and work your heart and lungs. Some great aerobic exercises include:
As you are getting back into shape, you might experience some soreness. This is particularly true if your sport includes repetitive impact such as running, jumping or rapid change of direction. Cross training is the practice of engaging in a different form of exercise or training, and it’s a great way to build stamina without the wear and tear on those same muscles. Some examples of low-impact cross training activities include:
As you get back into activity, you’ll want to make sure you ease into your maximum workload. Workload is a combination of volume and intensity. Start at 50% of your regular in-season workload, then slowly increase by about 10% each week until you are back to your normal workload.
This also means it is important to get enough rest. During the first week back to activity, you’ll want a work-to-rest ratio of 1:4. For example, an exercise or drill that takes 30 seconds to complete is followed by 2 minutes of rest. Progressively decrease rest time each week.
Cool Down and Stretch
Just as a warm up is important before your activity, it’s also important to cool down and stretch when you’re done. This is a great opportunity to take 5-10 minutes to loosen up with some dynamic and static stretching for your tight muscles. A dynamic stretch will incorporate movement, such as leg swings, while a static stretch holds a single position for 20-45 seconds.
Medical Needs and Injury Prevention
While you took a break from your regular activity levels, any symptoms of injury may have decreased. However, when you start exercising again, it’s likely these same injuries or pains will come back.
Now is a great time to start preparing and prevent some aches and pains that could sideline you from your favorite activity. It’s important to complete any rehabilitation activities your athletic trainer, physical therapist or doctor recommend. After all this waiting, it would be a shame to not be able to enjoy what you love due to a preventable injury.
If you do need urgent care, we’re open and ready to safely treat you in Bloomington, Burnsville, Woodbury and Maple Grove. Our care providers are also available for video visits.