It’s not long to go until we can head back into the gyms! Our pent up enthusiasm to get stuck in however could be a detriment to our training progress if we injure ourselves. Senior physiotherapists Emily Jackson and Daniel Gibson share their tips on how to get back into fitness and training at the gym with gusto but avoiding injury. 

Emily Jackson

“With the prospect of gyms reopening on the 12th April many of us will be eager to get back and pick up where we left off. The proven benefits of regular exercise are well known and, now more than ever, we’re keen to get back into training.  However, given the closures over the last 12 months, it is highly likely that you may not be as fit or as strong as you once were. Without some care and attention, this can expose you to the risk of 'overuse injury' on return to exercise. 

In the case of 'overuse injuries', pain often occurs because of too much stress or trauma on a joint or soft tissue. One of the key concepts in reducing the risk of, and managing, these injuries is understanding the balance between your training and your body’s ability to cope with what you’re asking it to do. This is what is known as “the load”. Loading your tissues by exercising is healthy and promotes improvements in healing, fitness and strength. However, injuries are most likely to occur when this is increased too quickly and the tissue isn’t able to cope. Simply, doing too much, too soon, you’re more likely to injure yourself. 

Daniel Gibson

If you’ve had a pause in your training, which most likely we all have, you will not be able to pick up exactly where you left off. Prior to lockdown, you will have built up to that fitness level over time and it will take some patience to get back there safely.  A useful tip when returning to exercise is to introduce, and increase it, gradually. This could include your mileage, speed, number of sessions per week, or the amount of weight used. One of the basic rules in injury prevention is increasing at a rate of no more than 10% per week. The risk of overload injury should be considered whatever your fitness goals, whether that is to return to hiking, running, the gym or getting back into sport. The same principle applies to all - start low and gradually build!

An equally important part of finding the balance is incorporating sufficient rest. Rest days allow your tissues time to repair and need consideration when planning training sessions through the week. We must also remember that there are many other factors that can contribute to injury and repair; our mental health, diet, energy and sleep are equally as important and can all influence how well our bodies adapt to exercise.

Getting back into the gym and into sport is going be a great way to boost our social connections, mental wellbeing and general health. We know that exercise is an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is worth remembering though, that to reduce your risk of injury when back in the gym, planning a sensible training structure will be key.  Ways to do this could include incorporating gradual progression of your exercise over time and adding in recovery days. This will mean that as gyms reopen, we can make the most of all of the benefits of exercise again; just remember to take it steady.”

Returning to the gym - helpful links:

Get a personalised training programme.

The teams at Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing gyms can help develop a personalised training programme to help you achieve your goals. Contact your Fitness & Wellbeing Centre once they’re reopen for details. 

Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital physiotherapy.

Conveniently located in Leeds city centre, our large physiotherapy department has a fully equipped rehabilitation gym and our team of highly qualified physiotherapists come from a variety of backgrounds. This means we can treat issues ranging from routine problems to those that require specialist knowledge. Find out more about booking an appointment with our physiotherapy team.

Personal training.

Personal training is available at Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing gyms as well here in our physiotherapy department at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital. Contact your gym once reopened or contact our physiotherapy team at Leeds Hospital to get booked in.

Sports Injury Clinic at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital.

If you do become injured, Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital Sports Medicine and Injury Clinic can provide you with specialised care and treatment to help get you back to the sport you love, pain-free and quickly. Find out more about the Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital Sports Medicine and Injury Clinic.