How to Avoid Injury After a Fitness Hiatus

January 24, 2023 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Many people are eager to get back into the gym after the holiday season to resume workouts. Often times, this eagerness leads people to lift weights that are too heavy or attempt cardio exercises they can’t keep up with. This can lead to injuries as the body is deconditioned after a long sedentary period. It takes time to rebuild strength and stamina. Keep reading for tips on how to safely and gradually get into a consistent training routine.

Get Back to Basics

Don’t push yourself too hard at the beginning stages. Start with short and light exercises, increasing the time and intensity in manageable increments when you feel ready. Start with 20 to 30 minutes of light exercise, increase the time and intensity over a period of several weeks.

  • Focus on your form – Moving with good from helps your body work as a unit. Moving slowly and intentionally through exercises, with a mind for form, reduces risk of injury and maximizes stability and mobility.
  • Alternate strength training and cardio for a cross-functional exercise routine. This allows certain muscle groups to rest while others are exercised. In addition to limiting overuse or straining injuries, a blend of target movements and cardio will build your endurance.
  • Core strengthening – Don’t overlook your core! The abdominis muscles, internal and external obliques, and pelvic floor muscles are the key to maintaining stability of your spine and pelvis. A strong core removes stress and tension from our back, increasing range of motion and balance.

Develop a Warm Up and Cool Down Routine

Pre and post workout/practice session exercises play a critical role in preparing the body for activity and aid in recovery. The warm up process increases muscle temperature, leading to the dissociation of oxygen from hemoglobin, improving metabolic chemical reactions and cellular processes. With a proper warm up such as shoulder rolls, quad stretches, and jumping jacks, muscles are able to move quickly and efficiently, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. A cool down routine following periods of exercise is just as important to slowly decrease body temperature and lower your heart rate. Simple movements, like stretching or foam rolling, will help the body dispose of harmful toxins that may cause muscle stiffness or aches.

Fuel your Body

Add healthy fats, good carbohydrates, and lean proteins into your diet. These might include whole-grain toast and pasta, brown rice, low-fat yogurt, and an array of fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates provide energy while protein helps repair and grow your muscles.

Invest in a Personal Trainer

A personal trainer may not be feasible for everyone. However, if professional training assistance is within your means, it is a great way to ensure that you’re receiving guidance and functional form tips throughout the workout. Knowing the correct and most effective movements and having a consistent training schedule greatly reduces the risk of overextending yourself when jumping back into an exercise routine.

Know your Limits

Minor muscle aches or soreness after practice or a workout are to be expected in most cases. Aches and soreness will typically dissipate within 24-48 hours. However, if you have acute or persistent pain, before or during an activity, you should stop all activity. Try taking a day off to rest and recover or seek medical evaluation if pain continues.

Have an Injury Plan

Despite preventative safety measures, exercise induced injuries may still occur. When that happens, it is important to know where to go. If you’re injured, skip the ER line and visit one of Raleigh Orthopaedic’s multiple urgent care locations. We have a team of dedicated advanced practice providers to treat your urgent orthopedic needs in Wake County.

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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.