Whether you’re an extremely athletic person who is in tip-top shape, or someone who just works out to keep from packing on the pounds, chances are you could at some point experience an injury that keeps you from your regular workout routine. Unfortunately, this can put a damper on your fitness and make it harder to get back to your routine after your injury is treated and healed.
If you’d rather keep working out as you recover, there are a few things you can do to keep from hurting yourself all over again, and putting yourself out of commission even longer. One caveat: you should talk to your doctor about your specific case before getting back to the gym – their knowledge of your injury and their answers to your questions will be tailored for your situation, and you should heed that advice first and foremost.
That being said, here are a few tips for staying in shape during your recovery.
1. Baby Steps
You know that saying, “hit the ground running?” DON’T do that this time around. Whether you’re lifting weights, getting some aerobic exercise, or stretching, don’t assume that you can perform at the level you were before you had your injury. This is a good recipe for injuring yourself again, or exacerbating your current injury. Start at a much lower level to see what you can handle. Lower weights, lower reps, and lower intensity will be your mantra at first.
2. Talk to an Expert
At this point, you should have already talked to your doctor, but there are other experts who can give you advice on getting back to the gym. Physical therapists and physical trainers have expertise in these areas. Consider talking to one of these professionals to determine a workout program that will keep you in shape without landing you back in the hospital.
3. Pay Special Attention to Your Body
Pre-injury, you may have tended to push yourself hard at the gym, trusting that pain, soreness, or fatigue is the sign that you’re doing something right and getting stronger. However, there’s a reason pain exists – it’s a signal to our brains that something is wrong. Post-injury, pay attention to the pains you feel during or after a workout – if something you could do before doesn’t feel right, you should stop for the time being. Your body may need some time before it can get ready for that particular exercise again.
4. Don’t Skimp on Rest and Nutrition
Part of the key to recovery is giving your body the recuperation it needs. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating right, and taking it easy on the affected area.
Not all injuries are created equal – obviously, a broken leg will hinder you more than a sprained ankle – but many injuries will not prevent you from getting regular exercise. The key is paying attention to your body, going a little easier on yourself, starting off slow, and giving your body its needed recuperation time. Keep these in mind, and talk to your doctor, before getting back to your usual workout.