Maintaining Your Tissue Health in a Lockdown

Reducing exposure to injury

With the clinic closed until the Coronavirus lockdown has passed, I wanted to share with you some tips for staying healthy whilst stuck at home. 

Being asked to stay at home for possibly the next few months has potential to create knock on effects to your muscular health. There are two main ways that I can see a problem arising, that could expose you to injury now or in the early days after the lockdown has lifted:

#1. More sitting, less general movement, less specific exercise.

Forget Covid-19, the biggest pandemic of all to sweep through the planet over the last 100 years is also one that we have come to accept as “normal” in society. “What is it?” you ask. It is muscular pain, with lower back pain being top of the offender list.

The reason for this is NOT unknown. Muscular and joint pain (pathology, like arthritis or osteoporosis, not included) occurs due to a lack of muscular conditioning – both flexibility and strength. So with this lockdown in full flow and Cabin Fever well and truly set in, you must be careful to keep your tissues working. 

This applies to well conditioned people even more so than poorly conditioned people. 

You know when you go on holiday for two weeks and you come back feeling like you lost two months worth of training gains? Well think about what 3 months will do to you! The body is always looking to reduce energy needs, so when you stop training your body starts to immediately decondition. So for those of you that are well conditioned then I really recommend resistance training at home, especially for the upper body, shoulders and arms.

The arms and upper body are not as easy to train as the legs. It is easy to keep running and cycling, or even simply climbing stairs but the swimming pools, tennis courts and climbing walls are all off limits to your arms. So be sure to find ways to keep these tissues engaged so you don’t decondition and get injured on your return to sport. I’ll be giving you some home exercise ideas to help over the coming emails.

For those less well conditioned, then doing less is not going to create such a big difference but you will need to be careful if you do start to exercise in any way that your tissues can tolerate what you do ask of them.

#2. More time on your hands, so you start exercising in new ways.

I know, I just said above that you need to exercise to keep your tissues healthy. But unless you already exercise in a similar way to what you are about to do (i.e. you already go out running, or lift weights in the garden) then your muscles will not be adapted to what you’re about to throw at them.  

As an example. In this nice weather I put up my slackline in the garden (like a tightrope between two trees but made of 50mm webbing. Fun!) to play with improving my balance. When my wife had a go her lower back went into spasm and I’ve been hard at work settling it back down again. Even lockdown can’t seem to keep me from working! The moral of the story? When trying a new exercise, build up slowly and don’t let your excitement to get started overload your tissues.

A lot of people are going to do Joe Wicks’ HITT classes online. HITT training is hard. I love to train this way myself but I’d never recommend anyone just suddenly start HITT training without a six week conditioning programme leading up to it. You are almost guaranteed to get yourself injured otherwise. If not injured, then a severe case of DOMS is heading your way to stop your progress. So start slowly with any new exercise plan and gradually expose yourself to higher levels of activity to avoid injury… whatever your current conditioning levels may be.

Four Simple Tips For Success

#1. It doesn’t have to be 5 hours on a bike (unless that is normal for you). If you aren’t currently well conditioned then 10 minutes can be enough with 10% added every other day to build up your conditioning. 

#2. Bodyweight exercises. There are hundreds of ways to challenge your muscles with your own bodyweight. I’ll be putting out some ideas for you over the coming emails. In the meantime, just remember to start with easy exercises and progress from there as you master each one.

#3. As I have said above; “Start easy and build slowly”. Tissues don’t like to be shocked by doing too much in one go.

#4. If you are well conditioned then be careful about de-conditioning with the lack of your normal exercise exposure. Remember to work out your upper body, shoulders and arms or you may expose yourself to a shoulder injury once you get back to the pool, golf course, tennis court etc.

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