Lockdown injuries – dos and dont's, how to avoid injury as lockdown measures are eased.
It’s been a trying time for us all during the lockdown period, gyms and pools are closed and many have found inventive ways to keep active and exercising. Many have embraced the positives, with runs and cycles getting longer and high intensity interval training (HITT) sessions are harder. However, research has found that the sudden increase in activity and longer and harder sessions has resulted in more injuries.
Dr Kal Parmar is a Sports Medicine Doctor who has worked with many professional athletes in sports such as Premiership Football and Rugby as well as multi sports events such as the Olympic and European games. He shares his thoughts in taking a look at a few simple steps that could help minimise the potential for injury and ensure you reach your pre lockdown fitness levels injury free.
1. Have a sensible timetable
One of the main causes of a sports injury when returning from a period of rest is
pushing yourself too hard and too quickly. Professional athletes invest heavily into
getting the right training after a time out so they reach their peak performance and are in good health and remain injury free. It may be useful to have a programme from a strength and conditioning coach who can guide you into your various goals in a
graduated way. You might be surprised how slowly you need to take things initially,
with the focus being on technique and form rather than volume and intensity.
2. Wear good running shoes supported by gate analysis
If you are a runner which has decided to up the mileage, or you're taking your
workout outside onto hard surfaces such as road or pavement, it is essential to invest in good quality shoes that are appropriate for your running style. Gait analysis is typically carried out by podiatrists and they will take a video of you running to spot
any biomechanical faults that may be present which can lead to injury. They can
advise on the best type of sports shoe which will protect your feet and lower limbs
3. Nutrition, hydration and sleep
This is described as the “Holy Trinity”. It is not just about times spent pounding the
streets you should be focused on. Make lifestyle changes which will complement your training.
The first is effective nutrition. This means eating healthily and well with a balanced
and nutritious diet which will give you enough fuel for your training.
Another key is to stay hydrated. Many people drink water whilst exercising but it is
also important to maintain hydration pre and post recovery.
The third component is to get enough sleep and not consider this as “dead time”. The magic happens when you sleep in terms of recovery and getting the full effects of your training for your mind and body.
4. Should I take supplements?
This is a controversial topic. If you are eating a nutritious and balanced diet, then it is
unlikely that you will ever need any supplements. Generally, I would advise vitamin
D as the climate in the UK can lead to deficiencies. Other than that, I would suggest
running things by your Sports Doctor first and maybe getting some blood tests to see if you are deficient before taking what can be long term and costly supplements.
5. Listen to your body
Recreational exercisers are notorious for pushing through pain barriers or niggles
which are initially bearable but can turn into a big problem – one common example is
an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, which can take months to fix. If you do have
pain in one area, then slow down or stop until you recover. Ignoring pain can
generally lead to more serious injuries down the line which will then mean you end up seeing me!
6. Strength and flexibility assessment and training
Working on your strength and flexibility is just as important as the exercise or sport
you are doing. A lot of people I see do some form of impact activity most days or
every day and mixing this up with non-impact activities such as swimming, cycling,
Yoga or Pilates will help the body recover and give you an element of quality over
7. Previous injuries and rehabilitation
Long distance runners in particular have injuries which they can manage through their rehabilitation alongside physiotherapists and strength coaches. Injury prevention is key to avoid what can be long term overuse injuries such as tendinitis or stress fractures. At Eight Core, we have a whole multidisciplinary team who will be able to advise you.
8. Stretching pre- and post-exercise
Finally, exercise should be accompanied by a full warm up and warm down. This
essentially means a stretching routine which should be done pre and post workout,
which can have huge benefits in stretching of muscles and tendons in preparation for exercise. An extra 10 minutes either side of a workout can prevent injury in the long term.
When returning to increased exercise levels as lockdown eases, it is essential to pay
attention to your health and well-being and avoiding injury. Adding these simple tips
into your planning and focusing on preventing injury means you should return to pre
lockdown levels in good health, mentally and physically.