Health & Fitness

Before you get back to the gym

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Summary

  • Fitness trainers warn that before getting back to training, there are precautions to be taken to minimise the risks of injuries.
  • Even though the mind may be willing, the muscles are not be as prepared to put in the hard shift.
  • Fredrick Lugongo, a fitness trainer says that an extensive period of inactivity leads to stiffness of the muscles which negatively affects motion and flexibility.
  • Research shows that people lose five percent of overall fitness every week of inactivity.

After weeks of inactivity following the festive break, getting back to the gym and picking up from where you left can prove tricky.

This is because the body has been in a dormant state and most people have added more weight from food overindulgence.

Fitness trainers warn that before getting back to training, there are precautions to be taken to minimise the risks of injuries. Even though the mind may be willing, the muscles are not be as prepared to put in the hard shift.

Fredrick Lugongo, a fitness trainer says that an extensive period of inactivity leads to stiffness of the muscles which negatively affects motion and flexibility.

Research shows that people lose five percent of overall fitness every week of inactivity. This makes one highly susceptible to injuries of the back, knees, and joints after resuming exercise.

The Kigwa Hotel Gym instructor advises that one should assume they are joining the gym for the first time and begin exercising as a beginner would, slowly building on their fitness.

Ditch the junk

Start eating clean. Do away with junk food, including the remnants of the festivities season, if any.

“Go back to clean eating or if you hadn’t ditched junk food, start by reducing the fast foods,” says Mr Lugongo.

Replace old training gear

Invest in new training gear to motivate yourself. Buy new workout equipment or shoes which will psyche you to show up at the gym or hit the running trail.

Have a trainer with you

Let a professional trainer take you through the initial parts of your workouts, showing you what to do and how to do them to reduce injuries.

“Make sure you work with a professional who will plan your exercises to minimise injuries,” says Eustace Mutahi, a trainer.

Set moderate goals

After a long hiatus, most people set high expectations. Get back to exercising with minimal pressure.

Mr Lugongo says it is important to set moderate goals that one can easily reach so as not to get overwhelmed so early or overstretch yourself, increasing your chances of getting injured in the process.

“Try to be soft on yourself until the body gets used to the rigours of a workout. The more you are hard on yourself, the more you will expose yourself to injuries,” says Mr Mutahi.

Expect pain

Mr Mutahi points out that muscle soreness will be expected as the body struggles to switch to activity mode after weeks of idleness and the long dormancy. This is because the body was in the comfort zone but it is now being pushed hard.

One can also feel dizzy but the pain should not extend beyond 10 days as that might mean that you have an underlying problem that needs medical attention.

Start with short sessions

Start with low-intensity exercises including cardio workouts such as cycling and jogging for a few weeks to regain strength and endurance before gradually pushing the intensity.

Start with short sessions of cardiovascular workouts either using machines or lightweight training but do not combine the two.

“If you usually work out for an hour, start with 25 minutes and include plenty of stretches as doing high-intensity exercise too quickly can cause injury.”

Mr Lugongo adds that one can incorporate resting periods in between the sessions until the body gets used to the rigours of exercising.

He recommends two weekly sessions for someone who has been completely inactive for more than three weeks.

Start light

This involves beginning with the warm-up, stretching, and cool-down sessions to gradually prepare the body for what lies ahead.

The sessions will warm up the muscles as well as getting the strength back before starting body exercises including lifting weights or machine training.

“This is important to minimise injuries and also monitor the level of fitness,” says Mr Lugongo.

Start with resistance machines before graduating to weights

Use machines for the first month before going back to the normal training routine. This will give the body time to adjust and refresh the muscles in readiness for graduating to free weights.

“Starting with machines is better than suddenly plunging into free weights. Resistance machines are more comfortable and minimises susceptibility to injuries but with free weights, the risks are higher.”

Drop your usual weights

Mr Mutahi advises that a person should start from small weights as they slowly advance towards their normal weights as the body builds its level of fitness as well as sharpening lifting techniques.

Dormant muscles, tendons, and joints are weaker and less robust and are susceptible to injuries and so one should start with less than a half of the usual weight they used to lift before until lean muscle mass builds back, says Mr Mutahi.

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