There is any number of situations that can lead to an injury.
You may be injured due to your workouts, particularly if you’re doing something especially strenuous like weight lifting or training for a marathon.
Some accidents can cause injuries.
According to Patino Law Firm, 1.7 million rear-end collisions happen in the U.S. each year. Those collisions may seem mild but can cause whiplash and a variety of other neck and back injuries.
Even if you were very active before an injury, it could be challenging to get back in shape after recovering.
Despite the challenges, we know how important working out and getting enough physical activity are to our overall physical and mental health.
The following are some tips to help you get back into the swing of things following an injury.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
First and foremost, when you’re injured, whether it’s a very mild injury or perhaps something more severe, you need to consult with your doctor through the entire process.
Don’t try to start doing more than what your doctor says you should do. You can risk further injuring yourself.
Take it slow and be steady as you work to get back in shape. If you ever experience pain or feel like you’re doing too much, stop.
When you’re ready to start exercising again, try to do about 20% less than what you feel like you can do.
If you’ve been injured and not exercising for a while, you might want to do even less.
Your body is going to be at a different place than it was previously.
Start by Stretching
If your doctor says it’s okay, you can stretch throughout your injury recovery. Stretching is important unless your recovery requires that you be completely immobilized.
If you don’t move at all, your muscles can get stiff and can start to break down.
If you’re able to stretch, it will help your muscles stay stronger, reducing pain.
Then, once you’re ready to become active again, you’ll be at a better starting point.
Stretching can be part of active recovery, and an important one at that.
As you’re easing back into working out, if possible, try to start with swimming.
Swimming is a wonderful activity following an injury because of the buoyance that alleviates the pressure on your muscles and injured tissue.
You can swim not only for an aerobic workout, but it can also help you rebuild muscle. There are water weights you can use for pool weight training too.
Of course, even with something gentle like swimming, make sure you’re always listening to your body and taking the cues it’s giving you.
As you start a fitness routine after an injury, cross-training can help you get fit faster, and it can also help you avoid furthering your injury by focusing too much on any one thing.
Cross-training means that you’re just doing different activities.
You might add swimming, walking, and biking to your routine for example.
Work with a Trainer
If you’ve never done it before, following an injury might be a good time to think about working with a professional trainer.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, it can be tough to get motivated to start working out again after taking a break for an injury.
A trainer can help you stay focused and accountable and get you on a plan you can follow.
Additionally, a trainer is an expert, so they’ll be able to figure out what’s going to work best for you based on your fitness level and also the ramifications of your injury.
Following the right form when you exercise is always of the utmost importance, especially when you return after an injury.
A trainer will help you with your form, which can help you get fit faster and also help you avoid future injuries.
Some of the things a trainer will likely tell you about form include to keep your spine straight and relax your shoulders.
You should also aim to move from your hips when you’re doing lower-body and full-body exercises. You don’t want to involve your lower back.
Don’t Take Pain Medicine Before You Workout
After an injury, you may be regularly using pain medicines, such as Tylenol or Advil. Avoid them when you start working out again.
Pain is important because it’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.
If you mask pain while working out, your body can’t give you the cues it needs to keep you safe.
When you feel pain when you’re working out you need to either stop altogether or limit your range of motion so that you return to a pain-free zone.
Incorporate Active Recovery
After you work out, and throughout the week, give yourself plenty of time for active recovery.
Active recovery is a way for your body to rest and heal, and those are elements that are important to be physically fit as well.
Foam rollers are an inexpensive way to help your body recover from not only exercise but also your injury as well. A foam roller can be used to massage the muscles around your injury and the muscles you focused on during your workout.
You can use ice packs after a workout or, if you have access, take a swim in a cold pool after you finish working out.
Give yourself time after each workout and between workouts to stretch. Try to focus on long, deep but gentle stretches. Hold each stretch for at least a minute, and if you feel pain, come out of the stretch.
Finally, fuel yourself and aid your recovery by getting enough sleep each night, staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet.
It’s certainly possible to get fit after an injury, but it takes time. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and do what you can do without experiencing pain or too much strain.