Easing Back into Exercising After an Injury or Illness
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We all know the importance of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercising our bodies plays an important part in keeping us healthy and fit and increasing our ability to live our best lives. However, sadly, from time to time, you may find that you sustain an injury either from working out or from other reasons meaning you need to take a step back from exercising.
It can be hard to know when to take the time to rest and when you are ready to get back to working out. Taking the advice of your doctor or health professional can indicate when it is safe for you to exercise without aggravating your injury and doing more damage than you did initially.
Recovering after an injury:
To maximize your recovery, there are a few things you can do to help you get back on the road to recovery quickly and safely.
- Rest – rest is important. It would be best to allow your injury the appropriate time to deal with forcing the issue and potentially making it worse.
- Sleep – sleep is a vital part of your recovery and when your body processes the trauma and looks to repair itself. If you aren’t getting adequate sleep, then chances are your recovery will take longer.
- Healthy diet – if you exercise regularly, chances are you already know the importance of eating well to help give your body the fuel it needs to do what it needs to do. Maintaining this as much as possible during your recovery will help to boost your recovery and get you back up and exercising in no time.
Getting back to exercise after an injury:
Wearing appropriate support for your injury when working out is important to help you avoid causing further damage and aggravating the problem. Your doctor will advise you on the right support for yourself, depending on your injury.
It may be that a medical condition requires ongoing support to enable you to continue working out without increasing pain. Paying attention to your pain, be it from an injury or an ongoing condition interfering with your workouts, will help you avoid putting yourself through excessive pain. Look at your plantar fasciitis symptoms, for example, to help you understand the cause of the pain, what makes it worse, and how you can still work out without the added pain this can bring.
In many cases, over time, the pain will subside, but for some, they need to learn to live with and accommodate to work out as required.
Take it slow
Try to avoid jumping back into your exercise routine where you left off, especially if you have had a long time where you haven’t been able to do anything at all. Your body will need time to regain its fitness levels, so taking it slow to build up to where you were will help you support your body without pushing to its limits and causing more problems.
A good rule of thumb is to start back at 50% of what you could before your injury. So if you were running 5km on a treadmill, aim for 2.5km to ease yourself back into 50% of effort until you get used to increasing activity levels. Even if you feel like you can do more, avoid pushing it too soon.
Also, avoid pushing yourself to work out as frequently as previously. Look at what you were doing previously, and if anything led to the injury could be changed. Limit yourself to once or twice a week until you build up strength and slowly increase the intensity and frequency of your workout.
Don’t ignore the pain.
Pain is pain. The phrase “no pain, no gain” is often thrown around when it comes to sport and hitting goals; however, pain is your body’s way of telling you it is hurting, and you need to stop or slow down. Do not ignore pain levels, especially when in the region of your injury or health condition or totally new pain.
Some level of discomfort is to be expected when returning to exercise especially after extended periods of inactivity, however knowing the difference between discomfort and pain will help you to look after yourself more carefully when exercising.
Change your workouts
Are you a runner recovering from shin splints, or are you returning to exercise following an ankle sprain or health condition flare-up? Try an alternative form of exercise until you are feeling up to getting back into your stride. Focus on training different parts of your body to help boost your recovery. Pilate and yoga help focus on your core strength in a more gentle form of exercise good for both the body and mind.
This will help you to stay strong and support your body without putting too much pressure on yourself, potentially making your injury or pain worse. Swimming is also a great exercise that works your whole body, supports your core, and is extremely low impact as the water supports your body as you swim.
Consider working with a physio.
If your recovery is taking longer than you expect it to, or you are struggling to get back to a point where you can start exercising again, consider working with a physiotherapist to help you to regain your momentum and optimize your recovery.
You can work the affected area of your body and get expert advice to build strength and function to allow you to ease back to working out at your former level sooner rather than later in the safest way possible.
Returning to exercise after an accident, injury, or flare-up of a health condition can be a daunting time. It is important that you allow your body to heal as you return to working out. Pay close attention to any cues it gives you as you increase your activity levels. If anything feels wrong, stop exercising and consult your doctor and look at changing up the type of exercise you do to allow your body to accommodate the extra movement in a way that works for you.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.