In the last week, anyone with a gym membership or an interest in fitness classes has been inundated with messages getting us razzed up to get back through the gym doors. With some taking advantage of the lockdown to work on their fitness, others have used this time to focus on other elements of their life, allowing themselves to somewhat decondition. Whilst many people have found new ways to keep moving during the lockdown, our bodies have been through a recomposition of sorts leaving us ready and raring to go back to our old routines -or adapted versions of them. You may be feeling fitter from having started running, for example, but still, the extra glass or two of wine every night and not lifting heavy weights have changed our bodies. Before you run through the doors of your gym or fitness class, stop and think.

Only weeks into lockdown I saw clients, followers and friends fall out of their well-intentioned workouts due to injury from the sudden changes to how they train. You can be as strong as an ox and still get injured when you switch to a new style of working out. Now, as I see fitness classes selling packages that encourage you to come back as you left off, I worry that I will see an entire new flock of avoidable injuries through my door.

So in order to avoid preventable injuries and fast fails, remember the following three things:

  • Check your mindset

  • Set goals

  • Start from scratch

Three ways to prevent injuries when gyms reopen

Check Your Mindset

We did what we needed to do to adapt. Many of us found joy in the comfort of slow-living and self-nurturing. We discovered new routines as well as new ways to keep fit, well and safe. Now, as we re-enter our ‘new normal’ we have to climb out of our sweatpants - aka our comfort zones - and attempt to put on real clothes. Do not feel guilty for how you have spent the last few months, and how your body has changed as a result of that. We have adapted and we have done our best.

As life coach Jacqueline Hurst recently stated “you have literally just survived a pandemic. Being healthy and being a few pounds lighter are not always the same thing. One size is not more attractive than another. So let’s step away from #sixpacksofinstagram and remember no one is perfect and scars and stretch marks are normal and real which makes you, human.”

Rather than using the gym to punish yourself for the last few months, remember what you learned during the lockdown and embark on fitness classes and gym openings with the intention of creating new, healthy habits. This will make my next two points a lot easier to stick to.

Set Goals and Create Routines

In order to avoid the ‘new years resolution’ mindset that inevitably ends in fast failure, set manageable, measurable goals. Create an end goal and work backwards from there. This way, you won’t end up taking on too much, too soon. Regular exercise is integral when it comes to preventing injuries associated with desk-jobs, occupational habits and ageing. Back and neck pains do not arrive at 35, they develop because certain muscles need strengthening or lengthening. So many ailments that we live with are avoidable if you are prescribed the correct exercises by a good physiotherapist. In order to keep your body strong enough to live a long, pain-free life, you must create manageable routines rather than binge on guilt-induced fitness.

Start Again

No matter how many times a day you exercised during the lockdown, please be sure to remember that you were doing types of exercise. If you are going from running back to spinning, or from daily HIIT workouts back to lifting weights, remember that you have been using different muscle groups. Now, as you go back into the gym, you are essentially starting again. You will need to use less weight, fewer reps and less frequent gym visits. It is a lot easier to prevent injuries than to fix them. It is also a lot less painful! Please start slow and listen to your body for the best chance of injury prevention.

Remembering the above three mantras should dramatically reduce the number of avoidable injuries that walk through my clinic doors. However, some aches and ailments cannot be anticipated as easily. If you do feel any strange niggles, please remember your new mindset ‘prevention is easier than treatment’ and reach out to your favourite physiotherapist.

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