Load Management in Return to Exercise
Hurray! We’re on our way out of lockdown. And with that comes the excitement of lots of adults and kids around Victoria returning to individual, school and community sport. As training begins it can be easy to just try and resume where you left off, running straight back into the intensity and level of training you were competing at prior to lockdown. However, this can potentially lead to problems down the track such as inconsistent performance and injuries.
Load management for sport is very important coming out of lockdown. The International Olympic Committee (https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/50/17/1030) defines load as the sport and non-sport burden (single or multiple physiological, psychological, or mechanical stressors) as a stimulus that is applied to a human biological system. Simply, it’s the amount of activity or stress placed on the individual. These stressors can be activity such as training or match-play and then are influenced afterwards by how the body responds physically and psychologically to the stress.
Generally, our bodies like to have consistent load. Whether that be muscles, bones, tendons or ligaments, our bodies manage best when activity or exercise is consistent. Therefore, moving from everyday life into lockdown for many has seen a dramatic shift in loads and in many cases a decrease in training load and a potential increase in psychological stress.
Tips for Resuming Exercise
So, as we move back into the resumption of normal training and match-play it is important to monitor the load we put our bodies through. Some tips when resuming exercise again would be to:
- Avoid trying to go back to pre-level levels of exercise if you’ve had a break or decreased your exercise levels over lockdown.
- Gradually increase load or activity over time to allow your body to adapt to the change in load – whether that is running/swimming/cycling, strength training or sports-specific exercise.
- Be careful to try and change only one variable at a time when increasing load – for example duration, intensity, or type of exercise.
- Incorporating basic strength, flexibility, or balance exercises to compliment other exercise and address any deficits you may have which can help to prevent injury.
- Diet and rest – eating a balanced healthy diet and ensuring you get enough sleep at night is important for your body to restore itself after activity and consolidate the improvements made during exercise from that day.
- Ensure to address any potential soreness or pain during or after exercise with appropriate care from a healthcare professional.
If you want any further clarification on managing your training loads or want some guidance in developing an exercise or strength plan going forward to help you return or better your pre-lockdown levels of exercise, the physiotherapists across both Spring Physio Gym and Kooyong Physiotherapy Centre are well-equipped and ready to help you with all your post-lockdown exercise goals and injury management.
For further information on load management the AIS has a short document that outlines some of this information in greater depth: https://www.ais.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/734363/Considerations-of-training-load.pdf.