Happy New Year to you all! I hope you have had a fabulous festive season full of everything you wanted it to be full of. If you are anything like me, I am sure your body has also been (over)filled with festive excess, too.
If, again, you are like me I am fairly confident that your festive season has also been full of immobility than you would normally experience, too. Hopefully, you are making the gradual return to mobility in the first month of the new year. There are some significant mobility-related things to bear in mind, though. Of course.
A return to activity after the festive break can be classed as unaccustomed activity. This is due to the break. If you have been less active than usual for two weeks or more, then your body will have deconditioned to some extent. It is, of course, fabulous that you are recommencing activity. The benefits of increased activity have been well recorded and reported. Even if it is the daily commute to work.
Normal new year blog posts will warn you of DOMS, tell you to take professional guidance and progress slowly. These comments are incredibly valid, although I believe that there is something even more important to focus on. Whatever activity you do will have fantastic, beneficial effects on virtually all aspects of your health, assisting you in improving all components of your physical health.
My expertise, and therefore, my concern lies in the concept of mobility. Assessing, improving and maintaining mobility is at the heart of everything I say and do. Unaccustomed activity, and even accustomed activity, will gradually and necessarily have a tightening effect upon your muscles and underlying joints.
Beginning a new activity routine of any sort as part of your New Year’s resolutions must incorporate an element of mobility assessment, treatment and maintenance. Your muscles contract and shorten every time you move, regardless of whether the movement is performed with just the resistance of your body weight (for example: walking, running) or with an externally applied resistance (for example: swimming, weight training, cycling). A microscopic amount of this contraction remains within the muscles after the activity has finished, gradually tightening them up.
Your post-activity routine should incorporate strategies for returning your muscle flexibility and joint mobility to the state they were in before commencing the activity. There are many ways to do this, although they should generally never include any activity that requires muscle contraction (this would undermine the point). As a general rule, your post-activity routine should equate to roughly twenty percent of the main activity duration (for example: if you walked for 30 minutes to work, a minute mobility maintenance component is indicated).
Happy New Year and all the best for you and your mobility.