It’s been an awful year.

It felt like everything went wrong in the last year… COVID shook us to our core and made us rethink almost every aspect of our lives. The truth is that it’s been a very tragic and lonely time for everyone. I tried to find the good bits in such a tough situation… spending more time with family, simplifying life, learning to appreciate things in a whole new light, etc.  That’s all true, but there’s no way around the fact that is was just an awful, tragic and depressing year.

But, I’m not going to focus on the tragedy, because we already know the deep pain and loss we’ve all experienced this year. Instead, let me just focus on getting back to doing the things we missed for the last year. We’re almost at the light at the end of the tunnel…

For example, we put sports, activities, and social activities on the back burner, then focused on keeping ourselves and our families safe. We gave up the things we love to do… we gave up sports, the gym, etc… Personally, I put on weight (stress eating – a lot of stress eating!), then lost strength and flexibility, because I couldn’t motivate myself to workout at home and wasn’t able to play sports any longer. I think it’s safe to say a lot of other people are in the same boat!

But, now, there’s hope! In the next few months, we should be able to get back to doing the the things we love, safely. Yes, it will feel incredible to play sports again and see friends. But, here’s the point of this article… before that happens, you have to make sure you’re ready. Imagine that first day back… you FINALLY get into that first game and almost instantly get injured and are out for a few weeks or months. That would be pretty rough after waiting a year to play again. But, here’s the deal… the odds are high it will happen to many of us, since we are out of shape and our bodies have atrophied a TON in the last year.

Get your body ready.

Listen, sports are great and I LOVE them, but realistically, they do a lot of damage to the body. They require tremendous force and power in repetitive motions that break you down. So, it’s really, really good to get rest and regenerate, because it can help protect you from injury. But, when you’ve been resting an entire year, that’s a significant amount of time and you will lose cardio, natural range of motion, strength, balance, agility, speed, coordination, etc. If you just go out there thinking that your body is like it was a year ago, you’re going to be in big trouble…

Imagine if you had a race car that hadn’t run in a year. You definitely would not take it out on the track and run it at full speed. You would have the mechanic make sure everything is still running well, then slowly get it up to speed. It is a step by step process. It’s the SAME with your body!

So, what should you do?? Take the time now to rehab your body, almost as if you had an injury. Start by slowly breaking down those old, stubborn knots in the muscles. Then, do some gentle exercises and stretches.  Start working on basic mobility skills and improve your balance. Slowly work up to more powerful exercises and real world drills.

Break it down…

Here’s a breakdown of some great things you can start doing right now to get your body ready for sports again…

  1. Foam roll your upper/middle back, chest, lats, hips, legs and calves. Find those painful, stubborn spots and spend some time on them. Keep going until they stop being painful. You could easily do this for 20-60 minutes a day. It will loosen you up and enable your body to start moving more naturally again.
  2. Do you have any old, stubborn injuries or areas that are weak and prone to injury? Consider doing some rehab on those areas to protect yourself and ramp up for sports. If it’s an old ankle injury or if you have weak, unstable ankles, consider our powerful healing at home ankle rehab program, HEM Ankle Rehab. If you have any issues with your shoulders, wrists, low back, knees or elbows, consider any of our other great at home rehab programs from Malin Method. The main idea is to strengthen and stabilize that injured/unstable or weak area, so it’s not a trouble spot for you, once you start playing again.
  3. Then, do some easy and light mobility exercises that require no weight and just get your body moving safely and freely.
  4. Start doing body weight strength exercises, focusing on any trouble areas. If your left leg is a little weaker, do double the exercises on that side. Always use great form on your exercises and lean in on slowing down and doing it right with little or no weight.
  5. After about 1-2 weeks, if you’re ready, start ramping things up with more weight and/or power. You can start moving faster and add some weight, if possible. You can also start doing jumping exercises and push yourself harder and harder. Again, take your time though. It’s better to do a long, nice ramp up phase, so you really get your body ready for more speed and power.
  6. Finally, start doing some sports specific movements and exercises. For example, I play a lot of basketball, so I like to do one legged and angled jumps from leg to leg. Keep switching it up, jumping from leg to leg with good balance and try all kinds of angles and distances. Whatever your sport or activity, try to break down what movements in that sport and mimic them in a safe, controlled environment. This will really help your body get ready for the sport you are going to play soon!

Yes, the idea of going back to sports after a very long year is exciting, but please take the time to prepare your body, so you can hopefully avoid an injury and function at a level somewhat close to what you were doing a year ago.

And last thought… we are all in this together, so let’s please keep watching out for each other. And most importantly, I hope you will feel the same deep gratitude that I will once you get to do what you love again! If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s take nothing for granted!!!

All the best to you in health!!! Stay safe!!