The New Year is looming and for many people getting back to or starting an exercise programme is high on the New Year resolution list. The pattern we tend to see is that people get over enthusiastic with the chosen exercise regime, injure themselves and enthusiasm wanes. If you are returning to exercise after a long break it is important to understand that our bodies are constantly adapting to the stresses and forces we put through them. If we have had a rest from exercise then our soft tissues will adapt and change.
When restarting exercise we ultimately need to gradually expose our soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone) and cardiovascular systems to appropriate stresses that do not exceed the ability for our tissues to adapt. This can differ between individuals but on the whole we need some objectivity in our exercise regime. For instance if someone is new to running then starting with a conservative walk/run programme such as 5 minute walk (warm up), 3 x 1minute run/1minute walk followed by a 5 minute warm down is a good starting point. If everything feels okay the next day then increase incrementally. If at any stage you experience pain then back off to the previous level of exercise and only increase the running volume if comfortable again. If anyone is new to exercise something known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) can occur 24-48 hrs after exercise and this is normal. The DOMS discomfort should be mild and if it is too severe then this normally indicates that you have either done too much or at too high an intensity for your current level of strength/fitness.
Ultimately we would recommend a slow conservative start when returning to exercise as you then have a starting point to increase from rather than gaining an injury and having to stop.