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Adjusting to the global pandemic has collectively tested our stress levels, our ability to adapt to new ways of living, and changed how we move our bodies on a daily basis. As gyms and outdoor spaces are opening up a limited capacity, it’s important to consider the following questions:

  • What has happened to our bodies in the past few months?
  • How can we adapt our training plans as we jump back into the gym?
  • What considerations need to be made for student-athletes and team sports?

Tips for injury prevention for anyone looking to start a new exercise routine is usually to start slowly and take their time to build. 

While the global pandemic has seemingly accelerated time and brought it to a standstill, many of us drastically stopped or changed our workout routines in ways we haven’t considered.

Assess Your Physical Fitness Starting Point

Before heading back to the gym, take an honest look at how active you’ve been these past few weeks or months. Some casual athletes don’t take into consideration the incidental exercise they are no longer getting. 

Check Your Step Counter and Be Honest About Incidental Exercise

Whether this means your now non-existent fifteen-minute walk to the train station, taking the stairs to your 3rd-floor office, or walking around a weekend art fair or baseball game, all of this incidental exercise adds up.

If you’ve been avoiding high-intensity workouts or bodyweight exercises at home, you could also be getting roughly 10,000 steps fewer than your body was used to pre-pandemic. Check your step counter, and be honest with yourself in order to prevent injury as you begin a new exercise routine. 

Get a Routine Physical with Your Doctor

Ask your general practitioner for a stress test to get a better understanding of where your cardiovascular health lies at the present moment. Even if you went from walking 5-8 miles per day to staying inside with little to no activity, you might find yourself struggling with heavy breathing or sore joints.

Always Complete a Warm Up and Dynamic Stretching

Watch Dr. Metz give running-specific advice for dynamic stretching to prevent injury as well as offer other tips for getting warmed up and ready to go. No matter what type of exercise, a good warm-up can prevent sports injuries across the board.

Fuel Yourself Right for a Workout

Many of us put on a pound or two during this pandemic with decreased activity and increased stress. As we get back to our normal routines, this will come off. While it’s tempting to cut calories to lose it quickly, a well fueled and hydrated body will be stronger in the long term.

Listen to Your Body

If you’re feeling under the weather, take the day off from your new workout routine. Muscles are taxed by exercise, and overexertion is going to trigger an immune response. While exercise is obviously beneficial for your overall health, exercise while you have a common cold is not.

Check Your Gear

How many months did you use those running shoes before the pandemic began? It might be time to order a new pair. Having the right support on your feet can prevent a number of foot, ankle, or even spine injuries.

In addition, wearing the right protective equipment is also imperative for outdoor activities such as biking, skating, or rock climbing. 

Returning to the Gym and (Re)Starting Slowly

We recommend working with a trainer upon returning to the gym. If you were working out daily, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve lost all form and function, but getting a professional to check your form or spot you as you find your new starting weight is always a great idea. 

Specific and Targeted Warm-Ups for Weightlifting 

Warm-up for the activity you’ll be doing. If you’re squatting with weight, warm up with squats without weight. If you’re going weighted calf raises, do a few with just your body weight.  

Create Realistic Goals for Training

As a good rule of thumb, start slowly with roughly 70% of your pre-pandemic weight. If it feels too easy, it’s easier to grab a new dumbbell than go through the healing process of an injury.

Respect Your Gym’s Social Distancing Protocols

Your gym is likely working very hard to make sure that patrons are safe. If your gym is open, there are likely numerous social distancing guidelines and mask requirements. Be patient with fellow gym-goers and wipe down machines after every use. 

Most gyms are also requiring contact-less check-in and reservations for group classes. Plan your training schedule in advance to ensure that you can get to the gym on time. 

Go to the Doctor for Strains or Pain Lasting Longer than 48 Hours

Give your Core doctor a call if pain or exceeds the typical muscular soreness and doesn’t go away or improve with rest or ice.

Make Special Considerations for Re-Introducing Training for Team Sports

In 2011, the NFL had a 20-week lockout when teams and players couldn’t agree on payments. Upon returning to regular competition, injuries were more frequent, particularly injuries to the Achilles heel, despite regular individual exercise.

Student Athletes and Adult Hobbyists Alike Run a Risk of Injury

Individual training sessions within four walls are never going to be sufficient training for contact sports. This is true for both young athletes and adults. 

Returning to Team and Contact Sports

Training plans for team or contact sports should include:

  • Practicing evasive maneuvers
  • Simulating contact situations
  • Honing the skills of game strategy

In addition, limited research has been done on the Coronavirus restrictions affecting morale. The lack of regular training or team sports may affect players’ mental health, which might also affect performance overall. 

Talk to your doctor before beginning intense contact sports without an appropriate plan. Even if you have been exercising during the quarantine period, athletes are likely missing skills necessary to avoid injury in sports – particularly football. 

Create a Training Plan with Core Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Before beginning a new training program, contact Core about training. Our doctors and therapists are experts in avoiding and caring for sports injuries. They can help you devise a plan, stay motivated, and avoid overuse injuries.

Developing an injury prevention transition plan might be the answer to avoiding injury or needing to go to the emergency room for an accidental training mishap in the first place.

Location Information

Elk Grove Village

555 Biesterfield Road

Elk Grove Village, Illinois 60007

(847) 690-1776  


Hoffman Estates

2380 Lakewood Blvd.

Hoffman Estates, Illinois 60192

(847) 690-1776  

Core Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Surgical Affiliations

Physician and Orthopedic Surgeon in Geneva
Geneva Surgical Suites

119 Elizabeth Ln., Genoa City, WI 53128

Phone: 262-295-1213

Alexian Brothers Medical Center

800 Biesterfield Rd.

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Phone: 847-437-5500


St. Alexius Medical Center

1555 Barrington Rd.

Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

Phone: 847-843-2000


Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital

450 West Highway 22

Barrington, IL 60010

Phone: 847-381-0123


Call (847) 979-9214 today for a Consultation