In the 15 years that I have been working as a physiotherapist I have never had a year quite like this one. Both at work and at home the COVID 19 Pandemic completely changed our daily routines from using Telehealth to treat patients to home schooling the kids (and in some cases doing both at the same time!!). Luckily here in Victoria we seem to be coming out of our second wave but, as we slowly move away from isolation and return to the golf course and the gym, we are seeing an increase in injuries related to these activities.
The combination of lockdown restrictions disrupting our regular exercise and the loss of incidental activity with working from home (or from not working at all) have led to a more sedentary lifestyle for a large number of the population. We know that inactivity will lead to both muscle loss and reduced cardiovascular output which will directly affect your performance be it at the gym, on the golf course or in the garden. This deconditioning can be reversed with a gradual reintroduction of activity and often it does not need to be any more complicated than just returning to your activity at a lower intensity. However, if you do return straight to your previous level of activity then you will increase your risk of injury with the more senior population being most at risk of injury if attempting a direct return.
To try and get an indication of how much condition you may have lost during the lockdown period simple body weight exercises specific to your activity can give you a good picture of where you are. For example, if you are looking at getting back to running but you are unable to perform a single leg heel raise then starting with a walking program while you build up your Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscle strength would be a sensible plan. If you are getting back to the golf course but have lost spinal mobility then you could look at doing a program of mobility drills and using just the pitching clubs before progressing to the bigger clubs.
When returning to the gym it is again important to do so at a low intensity by reducing the weights, ensuring your warm up is specific to the work out you are going to undertake and giving yourself sufficient recovery in-between sessions. The intensity can be gradually increased as soon as you return depending on how your body tolerates the increasing loads.
It is very important that we get people returning to their hobbies, their exercise and their past times. As a society, we have taken unprecedented steps to control the virus and protect lives, however we need to ensure that we maintain our general health while doing so. With restrictions being lifted we need to take this opportunity to return to regular exercise, be it gardening, running or playing with Grandchildren, it will have multiple health benefits and ultimately reduce the pressure on the health system. Therefore, please get in touch with the clinic if you are struggling to get back and we will find a way to get you being active again.