We are all highly motivated when we return to a fitness regime or sport, and tend to throw ourselves into the activity at full steam. We call this going from zero to hero, when people go from doing very little to doing alot. It can be the cause of many of the complaints we see in our Physio clinic. The need for a gradual return to activities cannot be overemphasised.
One of the most commonly overlooked areas are the warm-up and the cool down. We may tend to head straight from the office or the car into our fitness regime or sport without allowing our body to gradually warm up. This increases the risk of injuries. The ideal is to warm up with some activity that will increase your body temperature slowly, so jogging is ideal. Active stretches are encouraged for the warm up stage and not long static stretches (these are useful in the warm-down stage). It is important to practise common movement patterns and skills which will be used in your sport or activity. This will help improve performance through ensuring the muscles are prepared for the task in hand, it will also improve co-ordination reaction times and accuracy.
The warm down is essential to reduce your risk of injury and any delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). This could consist of a slower walk/gentle jog, decreasing in speed followed by light static stretching. Remember to stretch all muscle groups used in the sport. Upper body muscles especially are often forgotten is sports such as football, soccer and rugby.