Taking a break from fitness can be very beneficial for you and your body, but what about when it’s time to get back into it? How can you be proactive about creating healthy habits that allow you to continue to do the things that you love?
This guide will answer your questions and help you learn how to get back into fitness after taking a long break, so you can feel confident and reduce your risk of injury.
Reasons to Take a Break From Fitness
There is more than one reason to take a break from fitness, and all are valid and should be taken seriously. Below, we’ll highlight some of the reasons why you may have taken a step back.
- Recovering From an Injury. Whenever you experience a type of injury, it’s crucial you take the necessary steps for a full recovery.
- You’re In Your Off-Season. As an athlete, you may have time off from your sport or have experienced a sports injury that requires you to take some rest.
- Avoiding Muscle Fatigue. Overworking your muscles and doing the same exercises on a regular basis can cause your muscles to experience extreme fatigue.
- Clearing Your Head From Stress. Although fitness can be a great stress reliever, it also can be a source of stress. If you’re taking time out of your day to work out, you may be canceling plans, staying up later, or waking up earlier, which can cause stress for you.
- Reenergizing Your Routine. If you’ve been doing the same workout for a while, you may decide to take a break and find something new to help get you excited and motivated about working out again.
No matter your reasoning for taking a break from fitness, it’s important to take precautions once you decide to start getting back into a routine. By going through these precautions, you’ll reduce your risk of injury.
Ways to Combat Chronic Pain
One reason you may take a break from fitness is due to flare-ups in chronic pain. You shouldn’t have to limit yourself because of chronic pain, so here are a few tips we recommend to get back into fitness and keep your chronic pain under control.
And even if you’re not experiencing chronic pain, you can still follow these steps to prevent injury.
Stretch Before and After Your Workout
Stretches to prevent injury should include all major muscle groups and you should focus on stretching the area of the body you’re planning to work out that day. This will help your muscles prepare for your workout while increasing blood flow and oxygen within your body.
For lower body workouts, try the following.
Forward and Side Lunges. Start by stepping forward and bending into a lunge, then step back to a standing position and then sideways with one leg bent and the other straight. Repeat this on each leg, and don’t do more reps than you’re comfortable with.
Crossover Hamstring Stretch. Standing straight, cross one foot in front of the other and bend forward as far as you’re comfortable.
Standing Quad Stretch. Bend one knee and pull your foot back towards your butt. Make sure you do this stretch on both legs and don’t pull farther than you’re comfortable with.
For upper body workouts, you can follow these stretches.
Overhead Tricep and Shoulder Stretch. Bring one arm over your head and slightly pull it so your hand falls in between your shoulder blades. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and then switch to the other side.
Chest Stretch. Interlace your fingers behind your back and push your chest outwards, as far as it’s comfortable.
Wrist Extension Stretch. Hold one arm out and extend your hand up. Use your other hand to gently push your outstretched hand back towards your chest. Then repeat with your other arm and hand.
What’s listed above are all static stretches to prevent injury, but dynamic stretches, or ones that involve movement should also be incorporated into your warmup. Depending on the intensity of your workout, walking or running beforehand could be your warmup or a series of simpler dynamic stretches.
Getting back into fitness after a long break means taking your time to ease back into your routine. If you start pushing yourself during your first workout back, you risk injuring yourself or overworking your muscles before they’re ready.
It’s okay to start with beginner workouts and build your strength back from there. Start with your small daily routines, and some stretches to prevent injury, and then slowly add more when you feel able.
If you’re trying a new workout and experience a pain flare, you can easily take a break and go back to a less intense workout.
Make Sure You Take the Necessary Rest
Your body may not be used to more activity, especially after a long break, so not only should you pace yourself with your workouts but also ensure you’re taking the time to rest. These rest days are essential to allow your muscles to gain strength and not feel fatigued.
There’s more to rest days than taking a day off of exercising. You should also make sure you’re getting a good night’s worth of rest and practicing meditation techniques. Especially if you are dealing with chronic pain, it’s best to have a well-rounded routine.
Incorporate Physical Therapy Into Your Routine
There are a lot of reasons why someone may use physical therapy, one being to manage chronic pain. Our physical therapists put together a personalized routine that targets your pain and allows you to do exercises that increase mobility and gain strength.
A part of your treatment plan may include stretches to prevent injury so you can feel more confident in your workout routines.
Ensuring You’re Staying Hydrated During a Workout
In the next part of our guide on how to get back into fitness after taking a long break, we’ll focus more on how to hydrate your body as you start to workout more.
In your everyday life, you should be staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water. And without active exercising, it’s recommended that you drink between four to six cups of water. But how does this change once you start sweating more and increasing your heart rate through exercise?
In order to avoid heat exhaustion, you’ll have to replace and drink more water before, during, and after exercising.
By regularly drinking more water, you are also nourishing your joints and muscles to make them more flexible and agile for your workout. So, for example, if you’re going for a run, and not staying hydrated, you risk tearing your meniscus or spraining your knee.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can cause you to become nauseous, dizzy, and weak. It’s crucial you’re not pushing yourself beyond your limits and if you start to experience heat stroke or exhaustion symptoms, you should stop exercising, drink some water, and put a cool, damp towel on your forehead.
Other symptoms to be aware of are
- Increased body temperature.
- Heavy sweating.
- In serious scenarios, you may also lose consciousness.
Tips for Avoiding Heat Exhaustion
Below, we’ll give you some of the best tips for how to avoid heat exhaustion, so you can be proactive about exercising in the heat.
Wear lightweight clothing. By wearing clothing that allows you to breathe and let air through, your body is less likely to overheat.
Plan outdoor activities around the weather. Check the temperatures throughout the day, and plan your outdoor activities during the cooler hours.
Wear sunscreen. Especially if you’re working out on a high-temperature day, you should wear sunscreen so you don’t get sunburn. Sunburn can increase your body temperature and cause you to overheat and become dehydrated.
Drink plenty of water. It’s important to drink more water even if you’re not feeling thirsty because dehydration will quickly start to settle in once your body recognizes you’re thirsty. So it’s best to be proactive!
Now that you have a better understanding of how to get back into fitness after taking a long break, you can start with the small routines and slowly build your strength back up.
When an injury causes you to take a break from fitness, count on Lancaster Orthopedic Group to get you back to feeling your best. Call our office at 717.560.4200 to schedule your consultation.