Avoid exercise injuries after the corona break

To avoid injuries, you must start up carefully when picking up exercising after a longer break. Here is the physiotherapist’s good advice.

Many of us have, more or less involuntarily, had a break from exercising while the corona pandemic affected out work and private lives. Now, we start to slowly return to a slightly more normal everyday life and it is tempting to throw oneself into the fray of the struggle against poor physical shape and excess weight.

However, there are good reasons for holding back a little, says Marcus Idoff, physiotherapist at SOS International in Gothenburg:

- After a period of inactivity, you can feel really motivated to get going again. This will cause many people to exercise too intensely and too frequently after the break. But this may cause a backlash – both in terms of injuries and in terms of a decrease in motivation.

Marcus Idoff explains that it is a common mistake to exercise four to five times a week at high intensity after a break because you are motivated to get going and impatient to achieve the physical form you previously enjoyed.

When you start exercising intensely after a period of inactivity, muscles and tendons are often exposed to excessive stress. Running and other forms of exercise in which explosive movements are performed pose a special risk of causing exercise injuries.

- The best you can do for yourself when you start again is to remember that you cannot do the same as before the break. You need to respect the fact that the body needs a gradual increase in exercise, says Marcus Idoff.

Typical mistakes when running

Running is an easy, effective and practical form of exercise. For these reasons, many choose running when wanting to get back into shape after a break from exercising.

- One typical mistake is to increase the distance run too quickly. This may cause stress injuries to hips, knees and feet which it may be difficult to get rid of again, says Marcus Idoff, who recommends using the ”10 percent rule”.

The 10 percent rule is about increasing the distance by 10 percent each week. If e.g. you start out with a distance of two kilometres, it takes about six weeks to train oneself to run three kilometres.

- Increasing the load without exposing yourself to injuries takes time. Therefore, my best advice is to avoid long breaks from exercising, says Marcus Idoff.

Four pieces of good advice for resuming exercising:

  • Start at a load that is lower than what you were used to before the break. Start with one to two workouts per week with the goal of completing the workout without feeling any pains afterwards.
  • Increase the load slowly and gradually.
  • Allow for restitution days when planning your workouts and respect the fact that your body needs restitution. If you exercise for several days in a row, you increase the risk of stress injuries.
  • Stay motivated by training continuously instead of starting with a bang.

Run using the 10 percent rule:
A good yardstick for intensifying your running is by increasing the distance by 10 percent every week.

By way of example:

Week 1: 2 000 m

Week 2: 2 200 m

Week 3: 2 420 m

Week 4: 2 662 m

Week 5: 2 928 m

Week 6: 3 221 m

Using this example, it takes approximately six weeks for a person capable of running 2 000 m per week to train him- or herself to run about 3 000 m per week.

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