Spring is here, and for many of us that means it’s time to get back into that exercise routine. But before you launch into a 7 day a week program and end up setting yourself back with injury, take a moment to reflect on your current fitness levels and re assess your goals. 

During the cold winter months, we may have had some time off from our usual exercise regime. Remember when getting back into your routine this spring that our bodies may have changed. Over winter, our bodies have adapted to the reduced loading, potentially losing muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Before going all guns blazing back into the gym, here are some tips to consider to reduce the risk of injury or breakdown: 

1.Slowly build back up

Loading too quickly can increase the risk of injury. It is always advisable to ease your way back into your full training load rather than trying to pick up where you left off. A general guide is to drop back by 10% from your last full session, especially if this was many months ago!  You may not be able to lift the weight you once were or run as far as before, and that’s ok. Set realistic goals and gradually build back up to achieve them, and remember to listen to your body. 

2. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)

DOMS occurs when your muscles experience micro-trauma and is most likely to happen at the beginning of a new exercise regime. DOMS should subside in 1-3 days post exercise once your body becomes accustomed to that type of exercise again. DOMS is expected and okay as long as this isn’t impacting on your activities of daily living. If you are unsure if you have DOMS or an injury, see your allied health professional for advice.

3. Exercise with a friend

Exercising with a friend can aid with support and motivation to participate in physical activity, this not only helps our physical health but boosts our mental well-being. Why not join a social team, or find a gym partner – if there is someone waiting for you to start a session you are much more likely to commit to your program this spring. 

4. Avoid the heat of the day

As the days get warmer and warmer, it’s a good idea to think about the timing of your work out to avoid the peak heat of the day. Exercising in the heat can put extra stress on the body and cause our recovery between sessions to suffer. Dehydration also plays a part in your recovery, so to avoid cramping and heat exhaustion try exercising in the morning or late afternoon, avoiding the midday sun.

5. Hydrate

To keep your heart and muscles working efficiently during exercise it is important to stay hydrated. It is easy to forget to drink regularly in the cooler months, but drinking plenty of water actually helps you recover faster from your work out. In addition, as the weather warms up we will perspire more meaning our body will require more fluids to replenish after a session. I always suggest carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day so you can gradually sip and hydrate before it’s too late.

So as the days get longer and the weather heats up, don’t find yourself suffering from the winter hibernation – get out there and get active. If you have any annoying niggles holding you back or need more advice when getting back into an old exercise routine, consult with your allied health professionals here at Torquay Sports Medicine, we are here to help.

Jess Henderson

Exercise Physiologist

jess@torquaysmc.com.au