We are all going through extraordinary times currently with the impact that COVID-19 is having on our lives, the potential isolation periods that come with this and the interruption this causes to our lives – and exercise routines.
To ensure that we exercise and challenge our bodies in a safe way, it is extremely important that we respect the principle of ‘gradual progressive training loads’. In other words, not doing too much too soon which can result in an injury.
We’ve all been through the ‘too much exercise too soon’ scenario where we’ve run that half marathon we barely trained for, or lifted that extra 20 kg which we weren’t up to in the gym, and either injured ourselves or have re-aggravated a prior niggle. This can happen at the best of times when we are keeping active on a regular basis, but this risk greatly increases after a period of minimal activity.
Therefore, when getting back into your training routine after a period of lockdown or isolation (once you have recovered!), it is really important to ease back into things to give your body time to adapt. This will look different for everyone and involves a number of factors, including your prior exercise history and level of training, and past injury history. A nice starting point can be reducing your exercise load by approximately 30-40% in the first week of return to exercise. This could equate to running 4km twice weekly instead of 6km, or squatting 30kg at 3 x 10, instead of 50kg at 4 x 10.
From here, depending on how you feel you may want to repeat this same dosage for week 2, or feel comfortable to increase by an extra 10% for the next couple of weeks. The key is to NOT immediately return to your pre-isolation level of exercise straight away, and to GRADUALLY increase your activity back to your normal level over 3-4 weeks all going well.
Of course, the above scenarios are just examples and should be individualised to each person. If you have an injury history and are worried about returning to exercise, it can be a good idea to consult an expert in exercise and training loads, such as a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist. From here, we can create a graduated plan that considers you as a person and your history.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race!