How to emerge from COVID-19 fitter, faster and stronger.
WORDS BY EMILY SMITH
And avoid injuries along the way.
With studios, gyms and pools closed and exercise among the few legitimate reasons people are allowed to venture out of the house; you only need to look around at local parks and running tracks to see the spike in people engaging in running-based exercise.
While our body relies on exercise and movement to maintain metabolic function, postural strength, conditioning and mental health, it is particularly important during this time to employ simple strategies to create a sustainable exercise routine and avoid injury setbacks.
The key is to work on your distance, or your pace, but not both at the same time. Start by working on your distance at a comfortable speed (say approx. 60 per cent pace). Slowly build up your distance over time, increasing by 10-15 per cent per week. Once you are 3-4 weeks into your distance program, you can add a pace run into your routine by reducing the distance back to a very comfortable level and increase the speed by 10 per cent. Each week, increase your pace run by 10 per cent. As you’re navigating uncharted running loads, listen to your bodies fatigue cues and utilise walk-run intervals if you need.
If you need more structure, follow an online program such as Couch to 5km or have a bespoke program curated by a coach. Oh, and take a raincheck on training with a housemate who is fitter or quicker than you, until you’ve built up a fundamental level of fitness and conditioning.
Hone your finer self.
Running and walking are both exercises dominated by the large, global muscles (unless you apply specific technique training), so to ensure the core and stabilising muscles are engaged and conditioned, it is best to incorporate cross-training days between run days. Workouts that are slow, controlled and alignment-focused will target your weaknesses and perfectly compliment the higher intensity cardio training. Harvard Medical School recommends undertaking all four types of exercise into your routine; aerobic, strengthening, stretching and balance. Online Pilates and yoga classes are an effective way to strengthen, tone and lengthen muscles as well as improve balance and proprioception.
During this time, it is essential that you uplevel your self-management strategies.
A daily ritual of using a foam roller, stretching your tight muscles and rolling your feet over a tennis ball (or frozen water bottle), particularly after training, can pay significant dividends. Keep your eyes peeled on IGTV @emily_braidwood for self-care video demonstrations and tutorials.
Supporting your feet with sophisticated, science-backed insoles, i.e. the Emily Braidwood footbeds help to align the feet and ankles, minimise soft tissue overload and provide shock absorption. Better yet, they are transferable between all styles of shoes, reusable and skin-stickable so are perfect for your barefoot workouts. Also investing in well-fitted, well-structured running shoes is essential for any time you are clocking up steps or performing cardio work.
If you are experiencing pain or niggles, call your trusted Podiatrist, Physiotherapist or Sports Physician and ask about face-to-face and telehealth options. A prompt response to an acute injury can be a stitch in time.
Emily Smith is a Sydney-based Podiatrist with over 14 years of clinical experience nested in human mechanics and women’s footwear. Emily’s mission is to pioneer the outdated insole industry with scientifically-orientated innovation and female-focused products, that support healthy body alignment and pain-free mobility without compromising style. Check out www.emilybraidwood.com and www.sportspodiatrists.com.au for more information.