If you’re dusting off your running shoes after a long layoff, or you’re lacing up your soccer cleats to prepare for another season, you may be excited to get back into the normalcy provided by that activity. At the same time, you can’t just jump back into activity and expect to be in midseason form. If you overdo it when you’re getting back into your activity routine, you can easily be injured. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how to safely work your way back into an athletic routine after a long layoff to help prevent injuries.
Injury Prevention After Activity Layoff
Time away from a certain physical activity can actually help your long-term health, because it gives certain muscle groups time to rest and recover, and it allows you to develop other under-utilized muscles. An offseason can be just what the body needs to be healthier the next time the season rolls around, but you have to be smart about how you prepare your body for physical activity as you gear up after a layoff. Here are some things to consider.
- Slowly Build Up Endurance – You wouldn’t try to run a marathon without training, so you shouldn’t expect to just jump into full soccer or basketball activity without gradually getting your body ready for the physical demand of the sport. Start training and doing sport-specific exercises in the days and weeks leading up to tryouts so that your body is ready for the activity when the time comes. If you’re just trying to get back into a running routine, start with a really small goal and build on it as the days pass. Ease your body back into its old routine to help prevent muscle strains or tears.
- Listen To Your Body – As you’re gearing up for physical activity, make sure you’re listening to your body. Odds are you’ll feel some soreness in the first few days or getting back into a physical activity routine, but you shouldn’t feel pain. If your shins are painful or you feel a sharp pain in a muscle, call it quits for the day. Learn to distinguish between soreness and pain, and don’t make problems worse by trying to push through an injury.
- Mind Your Diet – Consuming a healthy diet is also important for injury prevention as you work your way back into a physical activity routine. Aside from helping you maintain a healthy weight and keep additional stress off your body, a healthy diet can ensure your muscles and bones are getting the vitamins and nutrients they need to function optimally. Every meal doesn’t need to be perfect, but make activity-conscious diet decisions as you get back into the swing of physical activity.
- Sync Up With A Physical Therapist – As we’ve talked about on the blog in the past, we don’t just work with athletes who are recovering from injury or surgery. We also work with athletes who are healthy but trying to take their physical abilities to the next level. We can help craft an individualized exercise and training program that can target specific muscle groups without overloading them or increasing your risk of injury. And if you are trying to get back into athletics following an injury or surgery, we can obviously help with this transition as well!
- Hydrate – Finally, it’s important that you really take stock of your hydration and water intake as you get back into a physical activity routine. You’re going to be losing more fluids, and if you’re not replenishing those liquids, you can easily become dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated, it’s harder for your muscles to function optimally, and you can be at a heightened risk for injury. Always make sure you’re drinking plenty of water before, during and after athletic activity, especially after a long layoff.
For more individualized advice about getting back to peak performance after a long layoff, reach out to the experienced therapy team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.
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