“Volver, volver, volver…” (going back, going back, going back), were the lyrics of a famous Mexican folk song. To go back is in fact one of the most-used verbs when people return from a vacation. “To go back to work,” “we have to go back to school,” “go back to setting our alarm.” It is true that for most of us, it means to go back to our everyday work rhythm. The use of “routine” has been avoided here because of its monotonous, gray, and emotionless connotations. That would definitely not be a healthy way to get going again.
During a vacation, we substantially change the amount of physical activity we do. Remember that physical activity means all of the everyday actions for which we use our muscular system and which involve energy expenditure; in other words, walking up the stairs in your office, rushing the kids to school to make sure they are not late, running from one meeting to another, etc. Not having as many daily obligations usually means calmer days involving more time spent resting and inactive.
For those of us who exercise throughout the year (that is, planned, structured and systematically repeated physical activity), we put away our gym passes and sneakers, and take out the flip-flops we’ll be wearing for the next month. We fill our time off with walks on the beach, swimming laps in the pool, and generous summer cocktails.
And although the period of “inactivity” that causes us to get out of shape is variable and depends on several factors such as age, previous physical condition, and the type of training we do, it is likely that many of us may need a period of adaptation to go back to having everything under control.
Our muscular system has also been on vacation. Our postural muscles particularly will be complaining when we go back to sitting behind a computer screen or craning our neck to send an email while we talk over the phone. Headaches and back pain will be common in these first weeks. We may feel stiffer (less flexible) and it will definitely be harder to maintain good posture during the work day, which eventually will lead to more soreness. We may feel slower and clumsier when doing tasks that require balance and good motor control.
To minimize this type of situation it is important to pay attention to our posture, whether we work sitting or standing for a long time. Try to take breaks every 2-3 hours to stand up, move your joints, stretch the muscles that have worked the most and breathe. Don’t forget that if we don’t breathe well, we won’t move well. And if our body doesn’t move correctly, we’ll start to have pain and/or injuries. Patience is key during your first days back. Listen to your body more.
When going back to training, make sure you do so carefully and under the supervision of a physical activity and sports professional to avoid injuries, especially to your muscles or tendons.
On September 8, we celebrated World Physical Therapy Day, dedicated, on this occasion, to Physical Therapy and Mental Health. Moving not only brings advantages to our body, it also increases wellbeing and self-esteem, which improves our overall quality of life.
Going back means moving; so, after our well-deserved vacation, let’s go back to moving…