Following what seems like an eternity of being stuck at home, yesterday we had some welcome news… Northern Irelands roadmap out of lockdown! For what feels like the last 20,000 years, we have been unable to participate in our regular routines. The majority of our time has been spent working from home, unable to eat out, socialise, go to the gym and… well, i’m sure you don’t need us to tell you what you haven’t been able to do. Anyway, it’s no surprise that many of us are eager to return to ‘normality’ as quickly as possible. Whilst a number of people have been working to maintain their fitness levels through home workouts, online classes, cycling and running, the majority of us are not fortunate enough to have a home gym and lack the sophisticated training equipment of professional fitness setups.
The closure of gyms, fitness centres, and Yoga and Pilates studios coupled with a lack of stimulation, has resulted in a drop in overall fitness levels and a rise in stress levels; with much of the population suffering from cumulative stress following months of being stuck indoors. Many people have had to juggle working from home whilst attempting to home-school children, ensuring all the house work and food prep is completed, as well as trying to find the time and motivation to exercise. It is perfectly normal under these circumstances to find that many people have lost stamina, endurance and muscle mass. Many of us have also found that the lockdown lifestyle has resulted in weight gain, making the prospect of getting back into shape after so many months seem like a bit of a daunting task.
However, getting back into shape is not as challenging as it may appear, a staged fitness program designed to build up gradual resistance, coupled with a positive mindset and dedication will bring both physical and psychological results.
The Benefits of Exercise
If you are reading this, then the chances are that you are probably quite familiar with the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise, such as:
- Improved overall fitness, strength, and flexibility
- Increased muscle tone
- Improved blood circulation
- Reduced weight
- Stress relief
- Better sleep
- Improved mental wellbeing
Back To Basics
If you are currently plotting your return to the gym it is important to take extra care in order to avoid injuries. Don’t be that person who just jumps straight back in where you left off – the body needs time to be able to build up strength again. A sure fast and safe way to get back into shape following lockdown is to revisit the fundamental basics and start with strength building and muscle toning exercises to help rebuild whilst avoiding injury. If you throw yourself in at the deep end, you’ll only be facing setbacks as you go.
The weather shouldn’t be the only thing warming up over the next few weeks (although we would encourage you to warm up more than our summer does). The importance of a good warm-up should never be underestimated; it helps to raise the body’s core temperature and increase the blood flow to the muscles. This helps to decrease the risk of injury to the muscles, tendons and joints – we know quite a bit about these things. A warm-up not only helps to prevent injury, but it also enhances performance. Increased levels of oxygen to the muscles help them to work more effectively and the increase in the core temperature contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation.
Gradual Strength Building
Your return to training should be gradual, the initial times of resistance training or time under tension should be halved and then built back up.
Extra care should be taken when lifting weights, do not return to the full weights being used prior to lockdown as this is a sure way to cause injuries. Weightlifting should be reduced to 50-60% of what it was pre-lockdown and once again, built up progressively.
Yoga and Pilates Classes
During lockdown, online fitness classes such as yoga and Pilates became extremely popular; thankfully, the lifting of lockdown restrictions allows the return of face-to-face classes. Both yoga and Pilates offer an excellent way of getting back into shape safely; these low impact forms of exercise are highly effective at building core strength, improving muscle tone, posture and overall stamina.
Strength and Conditioning Services
At Smart Physiotherapy, we offer a range of services including Strength & Conditioning. The primary advantage of an S&C service is the provision of an individually tailored exercise program, uniquely suited to your specific requirements. There are a number of exercises which, if performed incorrectly, can lead to painful and lasting injuries. Our Physiotherapists can help get results sooner in a safe way – helping to improve fitness levels, lose fat and gain muscle, establish healthy patterns and set realistic goals as well as pushing you beyond your comfort zone to achieve your targets.
How We Can Help
Covid-19 has had a drastic effect and caused changes to almost every aspect of our lives, we have had rethink and restructure our routines. Never before has exercise, self-care and wellness been so important. Should you pick up a niggle or knock, we can assist your recovery with a wide range of Physiotherapy, Sports Massage and Strength & Conditioning services.
To arrange an appointment, simply explore our services below.