Getting back in the gym, safely

With Melbourne’s lockdown easing, gyms reopening and sports clubs returning to training, we’re finally able to get back into our rehab programs as well as exercise routines and classes.

However, returning to exercise after an extended layoff carries several potential risks with regards to overload and injury.

Tendinopathies, bone stress injuries or fractures, and joint overload conditions are all common presentations that can arise from overtraining.

Taking a slow and structured approach can lead to a smoother, optimised return to fitness, as well as significantly reducing the risk of injury.

After long periods of relative inactivity and changes to your regular exercise routine, it goes without saying that your body will likely be deconditioned and not at the capacity it was at several months ago.

Your body will need time to rebuild not only muscle strength, but also load-capacity in passive structures such as joints and ligaments.

For example, if you were comfortably squatting 100kg previously don’t hesitate to be patient; recommence your training at a lower weight and slowly build up as your body adapts.

A gradual increase in load is particularly important when returning to any exercise routine, whether gym-based or otherwise.

When talking about exercise, load includes several variables such as weight, frequency and intensity.

Short, high-intensity gym classes are a popular and effective way of building and maintaining fitness but once-again, a slow return to these is imperative.

Whilst the temptation to complete four or more sessions a week like you may have done previously might be high, a safer approach may be to initially give yourself two-to-three days recovery after each session to allow your body more recovery time.

As your recovery (not to mention your DOMS!) improves, then you can slowly start introducing more sessions.

Don’t let a preventable injury slow you down!

To get back to the exercise, sport and activities you love don’t hesitate to book an appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists who will help you get on track and stay there.

Eric Coleman is an APA Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist. He works at Lifecare Prahran Sports Medicine on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The clinic is close to suburbs including Malvern, South Yarra, Toorak, Armadale, St Kilda East, Caulfield, Richmond and Hawthorn, and has early and late appointments for all your Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy needs.