Ways to help prevent injuries when returning to sports or the gym

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OMAHA. Neb. (WOWT) -- During the Covid-19 pandemic, many athletes who haven't been able to compete haven't had access to proper weight training either.

Marcus Palimenio and Lauren Watson demonstrate a dynamic warm-up at Makovicka Physical Therapy in Omaha on Friday, 5/22/20. (Rex Smith)

Two physical therapists at Makovicka Physical Therapy's Midtown location say it's extremely important for anyone returning to sports or the gym to take it slow and regain flexibility before going 100 percent.

Marcus Palimenio and Lauren Watson both suggest specific warm-ups and cool-downs to help prevent injuries like shin-splints or knee and hip pain.

“When you’ve had a period of more rest and less of that high-intensity workout regimen, you need to very gradually return to that cause that’s probably one of the biggest risk factors for having an injury," Watson said.

They suggest using a dynamic warm-up versus static stretches on specific muscles.

A dynamic warm-up includes things like walking lunges and side shuffles.

It helps get the blood flowing, increase flexibility and includes movements similar to whatever sport or training regimen you're doing.

The cool-down is just as important. They suggest using a foam roller to help repair muscles faster.

If you don't have a foam roller, a tennis ball would also work.

The main thing is flexibility. Without it, you can potentially do serious damage if you jump back into action too quickly after months of staying home.

"It’s really kind of a lifelong thing honestly. As a physical therapist, there isn’t a patient that you don’t at some point have a conversation about flexibility,” Watson said.

Watson added that there's great content online that can help people work on their flexibility at home while waiting for June 1 when gyms can reopen and sports can resume.