After what seems like forever, running enthusiasts can now look forward to a return to some normalcy on 19 June, when Singapore progresses to Phase 2 of its economic reopening. Parks, gyms, stadiums, swimming pools and beaches will be opened in this phase.
Since the circuit breaker was announced more than two months ago, residents in Singapore have only been allowed to exercise within their immediate neighborhood. This may mean a limitation in the types of workouts that runners, depending on the environment around them, can do. A runner with a holistic training approach would typically include track intervals, tempo and long, slow long distance runs, supplemented with strength and conditioning exercises in the gyms, cycling and swimming as cross training. Then, add flexibility routines through yoga and pilates in the whole mix.
Should you jump right back to your pre-circuit breaker routine anytime soon? RUN Singapore conducted an email interview with Fairuuz Saleh, Principal Sports Physiotherapist from Physio Sports. Fairuuz’s physiotherapy experiences spanned from stints with Football Association of Singapore, S-Leagues clubs to lecturing at Nanyang Polytechnic, and his speciality is in musculoskeletal conditions.
RUN Singapore: What is your advice for runners wanting to quickly return to fitness in this Phase 2?
Fairuuz: Short answer: Go easy! It is indeed tempting to return to your favorite stadiums and gyms and push your bodies immediately. It all depends on how much - or little - you have worked out during the two months of circuit breaker period. A simple rule of thumb is to test if you can skip; if you do, then likely you can run. If not, attempt brisk walking before you work your way up to a full run routine.
RUN Singapore: What are the common muscle issues that can arise as a result of lack of activities during the circuit breaker period, and what are some of the workouts to address them?
Fairuuz: There may be issues of strengths, mobility and coordination. Have an easy run session and look for tell-tale signs of muscle weakness, tightness or general fatigue. Broadly speaking, do strengthen your core: abdomen, glutes, back. Then, add strength workouts on your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
If you start to run on the trails again, then control and stability of movement come into play. To improve balance, do some proprioceptive training on a wobble board or bosu ball. Single leg balance and single leg dips also help.
If you will restart your gym routine, then go easy too on the weights, say 25-30% of the weights that you used to carry, and then work your way up again.
Finally, please spend time on stretching. Stretching increases flexibility, releases muscle tension and prevents injury. For runners, please especially stretch your ITB areas.
Generally, if you feel pain on the knees - common among runners, please do not use YouTube as your teacher and try to manage the pain yourself. Do seek a professional physiotherapist for assessment and advice. For example, some knee pain may actually originate from the back or hip, so they require different treatment from a local knee pain.
RUN Singapore: Swimming pools will reopen. It has been at least 2 months that anyone has been in the water. Any advice for runners on how they can benefit from using the pool?
Fairuuz: Aqua walking or running in the pool is actually a good way to restart your running activity. Buoyancy in the water will reduce stress in your joints. Especially, if you have obesity issues, or injuries, or have been inactive during the circuit breaker period, then this low-intensity activity helps.
If going into the water is not your thing, then there is the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, where you can use as low as 20% of your bodyweight to restart your low impact running journey.
RUN Singapore: Once runners have eased into their comeback runs, and would like to resume regular training, what is your advice?
Fairuuz: If you are restarting a training program for a race a few months down the road, it is best to include a proper training program that includes runs, strength training, rest and recovery.
A physiotherapist would be able to assess if you have tight muscles and stiff joints, and recommend recovery programs that include massages and therapy. For example, the Med4Elite therapy unit would be able to have iceless cold, controllable heat, rapid contrast, and active compression therapies to treat injuries and to rehabilitate.
It is time to go out and enjoy your exercises again in Phase 2 reopening. But please, go easy.