5 Expert Tips for Returning to Sport Post- Lockdown.
The time is getting closer to resuming sport again, which is not only great news but a relief for many. The downside, however, is an increase in injury potential as this unexpected break to our routine has tightened our muscles, slowed our movement, and left us out of practice.
When Ireland opened back up after the second lockdown, we found a sharp increase in people coming to us with shoulder, back and calf injuries. In all cases, we found that people went straight back into their sport with little to no time spent re-acclimatising their bodies to the particular movements and effort their sport requires.
Unsurprisingly, we also found that many people played more than they usually did, such was their delight at being out of lockdown again.
So how best should we prepare for returning to sport?
- Start now!
Whatever your sport, start shadowing the movements starting with just five minutes at a time. For example, if you enjoy playing tennis, then put on your runners, take your racket outside and swing it to do forehands, backhands, volleys and service actions. It doesn’t matter about actually hitting a ball initially. Just moving your feet and going through the different swings will prepare your muscles and reactivate your muscle memory. The same applies for golf.
If swimming is more your style, try lying on the side of your bed with one arm over the edge, tummy down or up to practice the front crawl or backstroke.
Start these shadow movements for 5 minutes now, and build up over the coming weeks before resuming your sport.
- Stretch yourself
Start some basic stretching to loosen your arm, leg and trunk muscles. Begin with just two repetitions, held for 20 seconds each.
- Increase your efforts
Gradually introduce a little more time to your stretching sessions. First, start and complete two sessions on two different days. Then the rule of thumb is not to increase by more than 50% of what you have previously done. So, 5 mins goes to 7.5 minutes, completed on 2 different days, and so on.
- Plan ahead
No doubt we all like surprises from time to time, however always remember that your body does not! If you haven’t done something for a number of weeks, you will need to gradually reintroduce movement to your body to help avoid injuries. Your body also won’t thank you if you jump straight into playing more than you did pre-lockdown.
- Get moving!
Your body loves to move, so give yourself a goal over these next few weeks to just move more. This could be walking to boost your step count or dancing round the kitchen. Just getting those muscles moving will all help to prepare your body for the freedom and enjoyment a return to sport will bring.