You’re bound to get injured in life. Maybe you tear an ACL or fracture an ankle, but as the famous saying goes, it’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up. Ask any physical therapist, and they’ll tell you that returning to an active lifestyle is an essential step in recovery. However, hitting the gym post-injury looks a little different than it used to. Here are six must-know tips on how to break a sweat without breaking bones or exacerbating existing strains or sprains.
Whether you’ve sustained an injury at no fault of your own or pushed past the pain of a high-intensity workout to a detrimental level, the tips below will help you get back in the swing of your daily gym routine.
While the recovery journey can feel like running in place, the first step in conquering an injury with a fighting spirit is understanding the root cause. For frequent gym goers and self-proclaimed workoutaholics, it’s critical to be in the know about potential risk factors. That way, you can jump squat over high-risk activities and achieve your fitness goals without missing a beat (or a leg day).
Common causes of workout injuries
If a recent car accident, slip-and-fall incident, or workplace mishap isn’t to blame for your sustained injury, your workout habits may be to blame. For example, training maximally seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, can land any gym frequenter in the hospital. Why? Experts advise that individuals adjust training volume according to their lifestyle, given that lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and high-stress environments can put you at a higher risk of injury. Should gym-goers make the mistake of training full speed ahead (when their body is begging to slow down), prepare for strains and sprains galore.
Progressing too quickly, selecting exercises carelessly, or neglecting warm-up rituals can also leave gym frequenters hospital-bound. If you’ve made a habit of combining technical lifts with fatigue and settling for improper footwear, putting your bench press routine on pause may be non-negotiable.
To avoid injury-induced hiatuses, be sure to take the slow-and-steady approach to gym training, progress at a sustainable pace, and play to your strengths by creating a customized exercise playbook. If recommendations for a safety-first workout routine arrived too little too late, be sure to take the steps below for a max-speed recovery.
Don’t rush it
Just because you can walk to the fridge without keeling over from pain doesn’t mean you are ready to set up at the squat rack. Recovering from an injury takes twice as long as the period you were bedridden. So if you were out from a knee injury for three weeks, your recovery would take six weeks to get back to your usual strength. You should also consider how your flexibility, coordination, and stamina have been impacted. Rushing into the gym without recalibrating your body just leads to further injury.
Do consult with your doctor
The trick to a successful recovery is a solid game plan made with a physician. After surgery, consult with your doctor to find the right treatment plan. The right specialist will customize your recovery program to fit your body and lifestyle. If you have a particularly tricky injury, like a torn hamstring or fractured spine, regularly checking in with your doctor is crucial.
Do mentally prepare yourself
An injury can hurt more than just the physical. It also impacts your mental health. Make sure to check in with how you are feeling, and try not to set any expectations about your recovery. Chances are your body will perform differently than you remember, so don’t be angry with yourself if you can only work out for a few minutes at a time.
Don’t ignore the pain
Trainers and athletes will often tell you to push through the pain when in the midst of a tough workout. But being active with a recovering injury is not the time to grit your teeth and bear it. Check-in with your body throughout your workout, and be mindful of any discomfort that might occur. If you’re still in pain a few days after working out, consult your doctor and tone back the intensity.
Do apply ice and heat
After a strenuous rehabilitative workout, ice and heat will be your best friend. Depending on your injury, temperature therapy reduces swelling and curbs pain. Ice is best used on new injuries, while heat therapy works wonders for injuries of mishaps past and large muscle groups like hamstrings. Before you treat any injuries, be sure to check with your doctor on the proper treatment plan.
Don’t give up
There are bound to be setbacks in your recovery journey, but don’t get discouraged. The worst thing you can do when healing an injury is nothing. If you feel like taking your workouts down a notch, consider low-impact activities that won’t put your body’s limits to the test.
Swimming takes the pressure off sore muscles while also keeping your body active. Alternate between workouts for the best results, but be sure to maintain a routine.
If your injury can’t be traced back to poor exercise selection or neglecting key exercises, a personal injury attorney might be the recovery journey spotter you need. Why? Often, grappling with a physical ailment requires adjusting your work schedule and powering through potentially life-altering pain–both of which contribute to this unbelievably trying time. According to the personal injury experts from Schwartzapfel Lawyers, “Injuries can cause unending pain and even heartache.”
Suppose the injury barring you from your beloved barbells is due to an automobile accident, workplace accident, or a defective product. In that case, a legal professional can lighten the load of post-accident mayhem.
While these legal professionals can lighten the burden resting on your shoulders, your recovery will involve emotional and physical heavy-lifting far beyond the scope of the average personal injury lawyer. Sure, these attorneys can advocate for your health and wellness during the legal process and improve your chances of getting a high insurance settlement, but physically recovering from an injury is all dependent on you.
Rehabilitating from an injury takes time, perseverance, and optimism. Be gentle with your body and appreciate it for getting you through physical trauma. However, should you choose to hit the gym, remember that overcoming even the most debilitating injuries is possible with the instruction of a physician and a mindful approach to your body’s limits.