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May 20, 2019

How to get back into a workout routine after an injury

Fitness Injuries

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Runner with an injured knee lovelyday12 /iStock.com

An injury can feel like a huge setback to your physical and mental health, especially if you’ve worked hard to establish a consistent exercise routine. It’s difficult to avoid those nagging thoughts that naturally arise after a disruptive injury: “Will I ever be able to run again? What if I gain the weight back? Will I lose my strength?” The reality is, you probably will lose a little bit of muscle, and maybe even gain a little weight. But taking the appropriate time off to heal is absolutely necessary and prevents the risks associated with prematurely putting strain on a vulnerable injury.

Once a doctor has given the thumbs up to ease back into exercising, resist the urge to jump back into a workout routine as though nothing has happened. There’s a better way to protect your body and, frustrating as it may be, taking it slow ensures a long-term recovery.

Here’s how to get back into a workout routine the safe way.

1. Keep things low intensity

If you’re used to crushing your local CrossFit or other HIIT (high-intensity interval training) style workouts, it’s best to find a more relaxed alternative until the injury has fully recovered. These workouts are about as intense as it gets, putting stress on even the healthiest bodies. As you rebuild lost strength, try activities that mimic the fat-burning, metabolism-boosting nature of high-intensity interval training. Swimming does this both effectively and gently. Two laps in a pool at maximum capacity followed by one recovery lap is a great aerobic workout with much less physical stress.

2. Find a workout buddy

Working out with a friend is always more fun, but can be especially important if you’re recovering from an injury. Not only will they help motivate you as you rebuild your physical strength and confidence, but having someone by your side can be safer than going it alone. Don’t be afraid to rely on your workout partner to spot you if you need it or remind you to take it easy. Try doing some exercises together that get both of your hearts pumping, like partner heel taps or partner press and row.

3. See a physical therapist

This can be a no-brainer if your injury is severe, but even those with minor injuries can benefit from the expertise of a professional. A good physical therapist will assess your injury, carefully evaluate its extent, and tailor a specific plan to help you reach your goals safely and effectively. Customized advice and treatment from a professional can help you rebuild strength, manage pain, increase mobility, and prevent permanent damage and future injuries.

4. Focus on nutrition

Proper growth and recovery cannot happen without the proper diet. The right conditions for healing start with overall wellness, and what we eat and drink impacts how well our bodies heal after an injury. Nutritionists, doctors, and physical therapists all agree that eating a well-balanced diet of anti-inflammatory foods like broccoli, salmon, ginger, and avocado help ease pain and promote recovery. Certain micronutrients also aid in recovery like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, iron, and electrolytes. If you’re worried you might be lacking important nutrients, talk to your doctor about other options, such as supplements, to encourage optimal healing.

An injury doesn’t have to derail your health and fitness goals. With a little bit of patience, effort, and counsel from your doctor, you can get back into a safe and effective workout routine in no time.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.

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