Now that good weather is back, we often rediscover the pleasure of outdoor activities, starting with cycling and running. These exercises are also perfect for adults or to spend time with your family. But before resuming physical exercise, it is important to get sufficient preparation in order to avoid any injury or disappointment, which would get in the way of pleasure.
We asked our ambassador athlete Jean-Philippe Moisan to give us tips on good practices. Jean-Philippe is a fitness trainer, massage therapist, physical therapist and university volleyball coach.
What are the sensitive areas or common types of injuries when resuming exercise after a break?
Mostly knee and shin injuries, because if you resume exercise too fast, too hard and for too long, volume is too important, and our body is not prepared to absorb all the energy it produces. The muscles will also stiffen. With running, I recommend to really take it slow, and rotate between 5 minutes of walking, 2 minutes of running for 15 to 20 minutes, and only can you increase the intensity, according to how you feel.
Could you share a handy warmup routine to help shake off the rust before resuming exercise?
In addition to taking incremental steps, I usually recommend short stretching sessions. I noticed that people often come to me because of lower lumbar pain. Because of prolonged sitting positions at work, their hip flexors tend to be shortened. In the case of cycling, this lack of hip mobility will make it hard to activate the gluteal muscles, and will create tensions in the hamstrings, and around the knees. This phenomenon will only get worse with a bad posture on the bike seat. In the case of running, volume combined with shoes that no longer fit for example, can also lead to injuries. I always recommend to visit a specialist. In the case of running for example, La Clinique du Coureur is able to come up with a tailored program with what works for you in terms of rhythm, equipment, etc.
Here are some stretching movements that I recommend:
1 – “Contract/relax” exercise, hold 5 seconds/phase
2 – 3 sets of 10 reps, holding 3 seconds, alternating which leg is raised
3 - 3 sets of 10 reps, holding 3 seconds, alternating which leg is raised
4- For strength: 3 sets of 10 “explosive” reps / For endurance: 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
What should be the frequency when resuming exercise? Is a schedule compulsory?
It all depends on your body but in general, 1 to 2 times a week, then 2 to 3 times a week, and more if comfortable, is a good rhythm. What’s important is awareness of the effort required from the body, and of the notion of progress. In that sense, a schedule can help understand your progress, what you’re asking your body to perform, and how to make time for sport. But it must not become a chore that just takes time, and many people can get organised without any schedule. One thing is important though: you need to like what you do. Choosing a sport or exercise you like doing is essential to enjoy the process, and make it last.
Are men and women subject to the same types of injuries or weakness when resuming exercise?
In my experience and given my consultations, yes. Injuries are not so much about gender than they are about initial shape, weight and more importantly, type of exercise/sport. With running or cycling, the back and legs are used a lot, whereas with tennis or baseball, it’s going to be the shoulders.
In that respect, I like to recommend the Big tree and stretching exercises with a ball in my gym. They suit most people, and are efficient for most types of sports.
What you need to avoid is static stretching. Stretching needs to be arhythmical, and to involve a swinging movement.
For a good preparation, I often refer to the 3 R.
What types of athlete supplements can help resume exercise by limiting cramps, dehydration or overeating?
Spontaneously, I’d say electrolytes. They are a must-have for everyone. When exercising, especially in the summer, we sweat a lot, thus losing a lot of sodium and potassium. Electrolytes will compensate these losses and make sure we stay hydrated.
The other products I recommend are BCAA, which help recover faster.
Ready to resume exercise? Read our article on the required equipment for running.