Getting Back on the Horse
Author: Craig Camidge, D.C.
It’s happened to every serious athlete (and even most of us not-so-serious athletes) at one point or another. Eventually, everyone will come across a circumstance (injury, vacation, laziness, etc) that forces them to take some time away from their fitness activity.
I was forced into that circumstance when I sprained my sacroiliac joint by lifting heavy barbells and playing a bit too much golf. As a chiropractor, I need to be extra careful with injuries and recovery. I followed all the good advice that my chiropractor gave me (hint, hint) and I’m on the road to recovery.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have been out of the gym for an entire month. I know that upon my arrival, the voice in my head (and likely the voices of my gym-mates) will tell me that I haven’t lost anything. Those voices will try to goad me into pushing myself too far, too fast. I hope that I can give you some tips that will help you when you find yourself in a similar situation.
Two Ways to Go:
There are two options you can use when getting back into a fitness routine. The first is to dive in head first. Just pick up where you left off. This is the choice of the peer pressure crowd. It’s the choice of the “Suck it up” crowd. It’s also the choice of the “soon to be re-injured” crowd.
Too much, too fast will lead to delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS) and can lead to worse. If your layoff was due to an injury, you risk re-injury. If it was due other factors, you risk injury, unnecessary soreness, and decreased probability that you’ll stick it out for the long haul.
A better option may be to strategize your return to activity. Over a two to three week period, gradually increase your training loads and decrease your rest until you have reached an acceptable level of fitness. Depending on the length of your layoff, and your general health and fitness, the acclimation period may lengthen or shorten.
Gradually increasing work loads gives your body time to adapt. It strengthens connective tissues and joints. It allows muscles to rest and recover. It allows the cardiovascular system to regain a base level of ability. The end result is decreased injury and a more comfortable re-introduction to exercise. You’ll also be more likely to stick to your exercise routine if you’re not dealing with significant muscle soreness from doing “too much, too fast”.
The Best Advice?
Nike said it best: Just do it! Either road you decide to take, just do it. Once you’re rolling, don’t take a break lasting longer than two weeks. You won’t lose much in two weeks that cannot be regained quickly.
Ask your Tuck Chiropractor for instructions specific to your case. They are a wealth of information and will be excited to hear that you’re making their job easier by increasing your fitness level!