Returning to exercise after lockdown


Hi from Excel Physio and Wellness! In these uncertain times, things change quickly. While we are only gradually moving back to into the workplace, we’ve noticed that our clients, patients and friends are rapidly heading back to the gym.

Most of us have gained a few kilo’s during the lockdown and there’s no doubt that with that comes a feeling of sluggishness. It is no wonder we’re eager to shake off the sloth and pick up where we left off with our workout routines pre-COVID-19.

The problem is that ‘de-conditioning’ during the lockdown down puts us all at a higher risk of injury.

Let’s explore why that is:

We know that for every week of bed rest we lose between five and eight per-cent of muscle mass in the quadriceps. Now, most of us haven’t been on bed rest (thank goodness…), but after four months of staying indoors, most of us will have some, if not all, of the following:

  • muscle atrophy (wasting, weakness and degeneration)
  • tendon and muscle stiffness
  • altered reaction time and balance capability
  • reduced oxygenation and hydration of the tissues
  • in some cases reduced bone density.

Of course, this has all been made worse by the poor ergonomics of home offices – dining chairs and dining tables shared with flatmates, partners and children make for challenging workplaces.

For others, motivation is a problem. Some of our patients have reported to not only feeling sluggish but even a bit depressed and withdrawn. Our mental and emotional state also take a toll on our physical bodies so it stands to reason then that we need to plan our return to exercise activities to minimise our risk of injury.

The APA (Australian Physiotherapy Association) has cautioned people returning to sport. Sports Physiotherapist, AWFL player and PhD candidate Brooke Patterson says:

“As a competitive sports person myself, I’m itching to get back out onto the footy field and be with my teammates, but we can’t just jump straight back into high speed running, agility and contact activities and expect we’ll be fine…we need to return gradually. With proper training, we can avoid injuries that will wipe us out for the rest of the season.”

So just how do we plan our return to activity, and what are the most common injuries to avoid? Well, Physio’s are experts in injury prevention and tailoring exercise programs to suit individual needs.

The key is to prepare for the sport or exercise that you wish to return to or begin in a specific way. For gym-goers who are concerned with lifting weights, you need to supercharge your switched off core stability muscles before you train. Have a look at our blog on core exercises here:

In particular, take care of the shoulder with a set of rotator cuff and shoulder stability exercises that have been shown to set the shoulder before lifting. You definitely need a day of rest for the body part that you have exercised. So if you train shoulders and arms one day, do your back and legs the next.

Remember that muscle growth and regeneration is draining on the body so keep well-hydrated, well-nourished and make sure you get adequate rest. Think about keeping your exercise routine shorter, and expect some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after you have trained.

If competitive sport is your preference, you’ll need a slightly different approach. Those sports where cutting, twisting, responding and changing direction are paramount such as hockey, basketball, soccer and tennis are injury-prone at the best of times. You need to prepare your balance and stability function as well as your cardio endurance. Hopping drills, theraband exercises and gentle cross-fit type rotational exercises are very helpful.

If yoga and Pilates are your thing, ease back in gently with our zoom classes which run on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 6pm. This way you can exercise in the comfort and convenience of your own home and take it at your own pace, all you need is a mat. Yoga and Pilates are a great way to stretch tight muscles and fascia, improve core stability, increase tone and increase flexibility.

Of course, we are always here to help. Should you wish to work with one of our physiotherapist’s to put together a training program or if you have sustained an injury you need assistance with, we are here for you, 6 days per week. SimaIf you would just like to ask a question via email or phone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or 1300 650 510. Happy training!