Prepare to return to exercise

At any time of your life you may decide to return to exercise – after an extended period of absence, following an injury and recuperation period or simply because you feel you need to get into shape and be at your healthiest. 

January sees thousands of us jump off the couch, snubbing the seasonal chocolates, in a bid to start the new year as we mean to go on. You’ll also see a surge in runners on the streets just after the London Marathon and England’s often neglected tennis courts are thrust back into action when Wimbledon is on TV! Whenever and however your motivation strikes, there are two key elements to getting yourself back into exercise – prepare well and keep it up!

From a chiropractor’s perspective, it’s like anything new, you need to get your body fit for purpose. This means warming up and cooling down, starting slowly and increasing your levels over time, listening to your body and adjusting your schedule accordingly. 

The warm up and cool down is actually way more than a nod to health and safety. By stretching properly and raising and lowering your heart rate correctly, you are getting ready to tackle more at your next session. You’ll also avoid injury and discomfort if you take the time to get ready properly. You could even mix a basic yoga session in with your schedule to really improve your stretching and flexibility.

Whatever your choice – the gym, running, racquet sports, hill walking, golf, aerobics classes or a mix of several – start steady and increase your levels over time. We know this sounds like boring advice, especially when you are at your most keen and eager to get going, but it will pay dividends in the longer term. Overdoing it in the early stages could lead to damage to your muscles and connective tissues, not to mention becoming quickly disheartened.

If you feel twinges and aches at first you can usually put that down to your body adjusting to its new regime. However, if you find you are in pain or are suffering in a particular part of your body, you should seek help and advice. Talk to your coach or class leader first of all, ask if there are steps you could take to change your programme to suit your level. Of course, if you are in sustained or worrying pain, seek medical help immediately. 

We can help your endeavours in a number of ways. We can ensure you are exercise ready by going through a few preliminary checks. We can support your programme with massage and non-invasive treatments to relax your muscles and maintain your body’s alignment. We can also help if you have any sport-related injuries. We work with all sorts of sports people and are considered part of their team in some cases. Chiropractic can also help you improve by extending your flexibility and range.

If you are struggling to continue with your chosen sport for any reason, we may be able to suggest alternatives that won’t impact on your injury. Swimming is often a good idea as the water supports your body and provides a complete work-out. Walking and yoga are also good complementary choices, especially in a recuperation period. We can also help you to choose different approaches to your preferred exercise, often doing the same things differently can be quite an eye-opener!

Above all, we are completely supportive of anyone who is looking to make exercise part of their life. It is essential for maintaining flexibility, strength, good posture, a healthy outlook and it also plays a huge part in keeping your mind active through improving co-ordination and (if your sport requires it) planning your cunning tactics! 

It’s all about enjoying the journey and staying injury-free. Acknowledging the improvements (distance travelled, time on your feet, rounds played, class level) is a great reward for your work and effort. Enjoy each one!

Top tips:

  • Sleep well – look at it as exercise fuel
  • Eat well – see above!
  • Warm up and cool down – essential advice
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise
  • Increase your exposure to exercise in small increments
  • Listen to your body and adjust your programme as required
  • Build in rest days to any exercise programme
  • Seek help if you are in any prolonged or persistent pain
  • Combine yoga and walking with your chosen sport
  • Mix it up and do things differently to stave off the boredom
  • Enjoy the rewards of a healthier, fitter, more flexible body

Keep going! 


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