Many of us used to be active, but maybe a new job, a child, or just a busy routine got us away from our formerly active lifestyle.
According to Jason Cruickshank, ATC, CSCS of Cleveland Clinic, it’s easy to fall out of our exercise routines, but when we’re ready to start up again, it’s best to get the ‘all clear’ from a physician first.
“We always recommend checking with either your primary care physician, or a physician that’s monitoring you, and make sure that your cardiovascular levels are okay; blood panels are okay, and once you’re certified as healthy, we can start into some training,” said Cruickshank.
Cruickshank said anyone who is getting back into exercising after taking time off, whether they were an athlete before or not, needs to take it slow.
Trying to lift too much weight, or forcing the body into a stretch or into a range of motion that it’s not ready for yet can cause micro trauma to the muscles.
It’s also important to practice proper stretching. Cruickshank said it’s best to start at a low level to build endurance and create an ‘education’ in the muscle.
One way to start is with static stretching, by holding a pose in place and then working up to more dynamic stretching like lunges or side steps to get the blood moving.
Cruickshank said dynamic stretching is the best way to increase performance and also decrease injury risk.
But before starting any intense exercising, it’s important to remember that doing too much, too soon can also slow down progress in the long-run.
“You don’t want to just rush in and say, ‘okay, I’m going to go over to the bench press now and I’m going to do a set of three reps at as high a weight as I can lift,’” said Cruickshank. “You’re not going to recruit the muscles that you want; you’re not going to have the neurological changes that you need to make that exercise more beneficial down the road.”
Cruickshank said that the same rules apply for an athlete who is trying a new sport for the first time. Just because an athlete excels in one sport, it doesn’t mean their muscle memory will carry over to different activities, so it takes time to develop that performance level in a different sport.