Getting sidelined by an injury can be a little devasting. You’ve put in a lot of work to get into or stay in shape, and a few weeks out of the gym can lead to setbacks. At Plunkett Fitness, we know how frustrating it can be to get back in the gym after an injury, so we have advice for you!
1. Use Ice
You are probably used to icing your injury by now, but you will probably need to ice your injury immediately following any exercise as well. Always consult with your doctor about whether or not you need to ice your injury or not. In some cases, your doctor may want you to apply heat to the injury.
Ice is used to reduce both pain and swelling in the affected area. If the injury is already painful and swollen, it is probably not the time to start easing back into things.
2. Go Slow
When you are getting back into the swing of things following an injury, you need to go slowly. Start out doing at least 20 percent less than you think you will be capable of. If you’ve been out for a long time, you may be looking at doing even less as you start out. You don’t want to overwork a recent injury, because you could cause further damage.
Your muscles need to be eased back into your exercise routine, so it is always best to take the more cautious approach when returning to physical activity after an injury. It is okay to take breaks. If you start to feel any pain, stop the exercise and rest.
3. Get Some Rest
Rest is required for recovery. But, it isn’t better to get no activity during your recovery process. Sitting around and doing nothing for extended periods of time can cause muscle stiffness and weakness. Even the use of very light weights can help prevent your muscles from getting stiff. As always, check with your doctor before doing any activity with an injury, but in many cases, you will be fine to do very light, minor activity even during the recovery process.
As you get back into the swing of things, remember that it is better to perform non-intensive exercises often than to perform intense exercises occasionally. It is also important that you remember that other muscles in your body might be working extra hard to compensate for the injury you sustained, which can lead to a muscle imbalance. You may need to create a workout plan with your physical therapist or personal trainer to correct this imbalance.
Stretching is critical when you’ve been out of the game for a while. We recommend dynamic stretches that you can do slowly both before and after a workout to help stabilize and mobile your muscles that haven’t gotten much action since your injury.
It might be best to take extra time to stretch. If you normally only gave yourself 15 minutes to stretch before and after workouts, you might need to extend that time to 30 minutes following an injury. Stretching can help you recover faster, so that extra time could even help you get back on your feet a little faster.
5. Watch for Pain
Pain tells you that something is wrong. You should never take pain relievers before a workout, because you want to be able to tell if something doesn’t feel right. If you start to feel pain during your workout, you are likely doing more harm than good. The best thing to do is stop what you are doing.
You may be able to modify your exercises to make them painless. Maybe you shorten the range of motion or decrease the weight you are using. However, sometimes you may just need to switch to a different exercise or stop altogether. Listen to your body. Pushing too hard now could keep you out of the gym even longer, so don’t risk it!
6. Try Swimming
If other activities don’t seem doable after your injury, you can start with swimming. Swimming is a great way to get exercise without putting pressure on your joints and muscles. Water provides buoyancy, and the gentle movements you perform in the water won’t put too much stress on your injury. In fact, even people with spinal injuries have been able to do exercise in the water.
Your physical therapist may have assigned you pool exercises. If so, do them. If not, talk to your doctor to see if they are an option for your injury.
If you are recovering from an injury, but want to get in the gym, Plunkett Fitness offers personal training sessions with trainers that can build you an exercise plan that is safe. Our trainers are experts in creating unique programs for every person based on their goals and needs. Give us a call today at 913-390-3360.