Becoming Active Again: How to Gently Return to Exercise After Injury
It’s happened to almost all of us: we’ve hurt ourselves and needed some time to recover before returning to exercise. For some, it may mean waiting a few days until the cut on your hand heals before picking up a tennis racket again. However, those who have sustained a more serious injury, such as an ankle strain or foot surgery, may have to take a fairly long break from exercising to ensure proper healing.
Once you’re ready to get back into it, you may feel a bit unsure just where to start, especially if you’ve been on the bench for a while. Whether you’re currently recovering from a sports injury or are looking for tips to help a loved one back into their fitness routine after an accident, here are a few ways to gently ease yourself back into your workout.
Getting Back into Exercise: What to Do After an Injury
Of course, how you should return to a workout routine will vary depending on the type of injury. Here are some general suggestions that you may find useful.
1. Talk to your doctor
Before you jump back into your exercise routine, you should consult a doctor – and your physiotherapist if you are seeing one – and get their okay. Even if you feel as though you are well enough to pick up your exercise habit again, it never hurts to get the opinion of a professional.
2. Slow and steady wins the race
While it may be tempting to return to the same exercise routine you were doing before, it’s important to take things slowly at the beginning. Your body will need some time to adjust and work its way back up to your previous level of fitness. You will also want to ensure that you are monitoring how your injured area feels as you move about.
Many people choose to start off with walking and swimming, as they are gentle yet strengthening exercises. You can also implement light strength training and balance workouts. These will help you improve your posture and strengthen your core and other muscles, which will help to prevent major or minor injuries in the future.
Consider lightly warming up before and cooling down after your workout. Together they should only take around 20 minutes total and are a good way to physically and mentally prepare yourself for exercise, as well as recover afterwards.
3. Make it personal
For customised workouts that are tailored toward your level of ability, consider hiring a hands-on personal trainer, even if just for a couple of sessions to get you started. They can help you to take your time, ensure you don’t accidentally overexert yourself and motivate you along the way. This will help you work your way back up to your previous level of activity and fitness as safely and swiftly as possible.
4. Manage your pain
‘No pain, no gain’ should not be your motto as you recover from an injury – after all, pain during exercise is your body’s way of signalling that you are doing too much and need to slow down or take a break. Don’t push yourself too hard. Rest and recovery are an incredibly important part of the healing process.
Ice and heat can help to prevent and relieve any muscle soreness you may experience post-workout, as well as reduce pain and swelling – if you are unsure when you should use each, consult your doctor or personal trainer for advice. Our active patches can also help in these situations. They contain dextrose, a natural sugar that has been proven to help calm pain receptors, which, in turn, will reduce discomfort and inflammation.
And, of course, take rest days whenever you feel you need them – you should always listen to your body when it’s telling you it needs a day off!
5. Eat healthily and stay hydrated
It’s well known that eating well and drinking plenty of water are key when it comes to feeling great and staying healthy. This is especially important during the healing process. To speed up this up, drink plenty of fluids and eat whole, natural foods, while avoiding junk food and alcohol.
Suffering from back pain? Read our blog post about the best anti-inflammatory foods.
6. Sleep is for the strong
Not getting enough sleep can make it difficult to stay active, as it can make you feel fatigued. Make sure you’re getting around eight hours a night and having early nights when you been feeling particularly tired throughout the day. This is especially important if you’ve just started exercising again. It’s called working out for a reason… it’s a lot of work! Your body (and energy levels) will thank you.
7. Stay motivated
This one likely seems obvious to you, but staying mentally strong is just as important as maintaining physical strength – and one of the best ways to motivate yourself to work out is to find a workout buddy. Studies show that having an exercise companion significantly increases the amount of physical activity people do. Find a friend who is also looking to ease into exercise or search for a group of likeminded people you can join.
Many people also find setting goals can help them stay motivated to improve their fitness level after an injury. No goal is too small or too big – the most important thing is that you are working towards something. Plus, nothing feels better than getting to check an objective you’ve met off your list.
If you love exercising, sustaining an injury that puts you out of commission for a while can be incredibly frustrating. When your doctor finally gives you the green light, getting back into exercise gently and consistently is the safest way to go.
From injuries to arthritis, discomfort can come in many different forms. Here at To Better Days, we have products that could help you manage these kinds of discomfort. Our active patches are chock-full of vitamin D and dextrose, which work together to soothe the affected area. Get in touch with our team today if you have any further questions or would like a consultation.