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Working Out From Home: Safety tips from athletic trainers for exercising while staying home

SportsPulse: David Krichavsky, Senior VP of Youth Basketball Development for the NBA, explains a recent initiative aimed at keeping kids active and fit despite being home during the coronavirus outbreak. USA TODAY

With so many of us staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III on Sunday offered words of perspective on Twitter: You’re not stuck at home. You’re safe at home.

The underlying message: Make the most of it.

One way to do that is by working on your physical fitness. You’ll feel betterand have more energy.

You don’t need a gym or, in most cases, even equipment to do this. Beginning Monday, USA TODAY Sports will offer daily workout tips, suggestions and precautions in a series we call Working Out From Home, to offer you tips to keep you active while social distancing. Our stories will come from coaches, personal trainers and athletes across the country as well as our own staffers. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor or trainer if you have any questions or before beginning to workout.

Fitness Instructor Jamie Benedik conducts a class in the driveway of her home in West Islip, New York. She is an Instructor at three gyms in her area but they are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As more and more Americans are social distancing, people are finding creative ways to exercise. (Photo: Al Bello, Getty Images)

The best way to start a series like this is to hear from experts. So we asked the National Athletics Trainers’ Association for some simple advice on safely working out at home:

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who provide care in a variety of settings – from sports to the military. One key area of expertise of athletic trainers is prevention of injury. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association has five safety tips on how to keep muscles working effectively and reduce the risk of injury while working out:

Evaluate Your Space

Make sure your environment is clear of any obstructions and has sufficient room for the activity of choice. Ensure proper footwear. For most workout programs, slippers, sandals and socks with no grip may not be advised.

Warm Up And Cool Down

With any physical activity, proper warm up and cool down is critical to reduce the risk of injury.

Dynamic Warm-up: Do 10-15 minutes of dynamic, lower intensity movements to get the blood pumping and your muscles warmed up. The intensity should increase your heart rate and make you sweat.  An optimal dynamic warm-up including jogging in place, high knees, jumping jacks or air-boxing, moves the body through a full range of motion as it makes the muscles more pliable and able to better support your movements and avoid injury.  (Note: If you are planning to do a more intense movement, you should spend more time warming up.)

The coronavirus outbreak forced people to come up with creative workouts while staying at home. USA TODAY

Stretching: After the warm up, it is important to stretch. Stretching helps to safely prepare your muscles and joints for movement.  An example of stretching is moving the entire body through yoga and Pilates-like movements that focus on increasing flexibility.

Dynamic cool down: After your workout, do at least 5-10 minutes of full-body, lower-intensity movement and stretching to help prevent muscle soreness, stiffness and future injury as well as move your heart rate safely from a high to lower level.  A dynamic cool down should include a lower-intensity version of your workout or your warm up.  For example walking after a run, pace reduction after walking, light air-boxing and knee raises.

Post Workout Stretching: Be sure to stretch all of your body as you likely used supporting muscles. The same stretching exercises for pre-workout may also be appropriate for cool down.

Sleep

Proper sleep is critical. It affects everything from healing, recovery, metabolism, muscle growth, weight control, mental health. One way to improve sleep is to remove any distractions, such as electronics, bright lights and noise at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

Hydrate

Drink water before, during and after any type of workout to avoid cramps, fatigue and other cognitive issues. If the exercise has high exertion or you have a high sweat rate, you may want to consider sports drinks that are high in electrolytes. Be careful, as they can be high in sugar. Also, caffeinated energy drinks are not recommended as they can lead to dehydration.

Nutrition

Fight injury with micronutrients by eating with health in mind. Vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and electrolytes all play vital roles in avoiding injury, sports performance as well as general health.

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