Words by Ben Lombard.
With outdoor gyms getting people moving in recent weeks, and the long-anticipated open date of indoor gym and leisure facilities on the horizon, many are understandably eager to jump back into previous fitness routines. But before you jump back in, it’s important to pause and consider whether your body is as ready as your mind to give it 200% from the get-go. Our injury-preventative physio friend, Ben Lombard, helps gym-goers prevent injuries as they rush back into fitness classes and weight lifting.
Since the announcements earlier this month, anyone with a gym membership or an interest in fitness classes has been inundated with messages in anticipation of gyms reopening, with many classes held outdoors in the interim. It seems through lockdown, a few identifiable, and equally valid, coping styles have emerged. Many have taken 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. Even still, the extra glass or two of wine every night, or not lifting heavy weights as you would have in a rigorous gym session has changed our bodies. Before you burst through the doors of your gym or fitness class, stop and make a plan.
We spoke to our resident physiotherapy expert Ben Lombard about this. Here's what he had to say,, “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.”
THREE WAYS TO PREVENT INJURY WHEN GYMS REOPEN
In order to avoid preventable injuries and fast fails, remember the following three things:
Check your mindset
Start from scratch
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. It’s important to 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. And we will adapt again, to whatever the times ahead may bring.
As life coach Jacqueline Hurst recently said, “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 that scars and stretch marks are signs of living.”
We are still in uncertain times, and there’s no one-size-fits all approach to navigating a landscape that seems to change by the day. Don’t be overly hard on yourself. However you’ve spent the past few months, expect some inevitable DOMS when you eventually do return to gym fitness.
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 Ben’s 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.
DON’T BE DISCOURAGED TO 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,” Ben says.
ABOUT BEN LOMBARD
Ben Lombard is a Specialist Physiotherapist in Central London. Ben moved to London to specialise in scoliosis and rare spinal conditions, fast-tracking his career as a spinal consultant. Ben now has 4 years of private proactive physiotherapy as a Spinal and Postural Rehabilitation specialist. He works with occupational injuries, post-surgery patients and sports injuries. Ben will assess and identify imbalances with the body and their causes. Using a combination of client education, manual therapy, dry needling and corrective exercises Ben empowers each individual to prevent injury by bullet-proofing the body. His mission is to ensure each person understands that it is much more time-efficient and cheaper to prevent an injury rather than to fix one!