No one likes being injured, but if you’re used to an active lifestyle, it can be particularly difficult to adjust to a more sedentary existence while your body heals, and then to ease back into activity when you’re ready. If you push too hard too soon, however, it’s very easy to put yourself in a worse situation, even causing permanent injury.
Instead of just jumping back into your old training routine, here are 4 ways you can approach exercising with an eye on your continued health and recovery. You can be as strong or fast as you were before, but you have to be patient with your body to get there.
Make Room At Home
If you normally exercise at a gym or run in the neighborhood, you may want to start your recovery out by exercising at home. Pick a room and some simple equipment and spend time stretching out stiff muscles, doing regular low-weight and resistance training, and building up lost core strength.
The main benefit of doing these exercises at home, though, is that you won’t find yourself half a mile away on a jog, in pain and unsure how you’re going to get back home. Instead, if something starts to bother you, you can cool down, have some water, ice sore muscles, and rest.
Approach Head Injuries With Caution
If you’ve gotten a concussion while training, you may think that you’re feeling better, only to get dizzy when you start to push your body through a workout. This is what happened to tennis player Eugenie Blanchard when she tried to resume play at the China Open a month after sustaining a concussion. Even if you’ve gotten a doctor’s clearance to begin exercising again, dizziness is a significant symptom and can cause you to lose your balance and sustain another injury.
Always workout with a buddy when coming back from a head injury so that there is someone who can spot you and assist if you begin to experience continued symptoms during your workout. This is the most important way to keep yourself from getting hurt.
Use The 20% Rule
We all tend to be overly optimistic about how much we’ll be able to do when we try to exercise after an injury. When you’re planning your first workout, determine what you think you’re capable of and then reduce that amount by 20%. Then don’t exceed that lower amount of activity. You’ll serve your body more effectively by slowly building up activity and not over training.
Work With A Trainer
Even if you don’t think you need physical therapy after an injury, working with a personal trainer can be helpful after an injury because trainers are able to read signs of imbalance in the body and help to compensate for them. If some leg muscles are stronger than another, for example, you may have tightness or restricted flexibility. Your trainer can help you strengthen and stretch the weakened muscle so that your body regains the balance it had before.
Injuries happen to every athlete, but those who struggle to get back in the game are often those who pushed their bodies too hard before they were done healing. Trust that your body will tell you when it’s done healing and when you’re overextending yourself – you just need to listen.