Getting Back on Track – Returning to Exercise Post-Injury

Returning to exercise after sustaining an injury can be a difficult process.

While you may be keen to return to working out at the same level as pre-injury, the body must be eased back into movement at a more gentle pace. In order to avoid repeat damage there are several steps that should be followed to get back to exercise with minimal problems.


Take it Slow

One main cause of repeat damage in returning to exercise post-injury is that people presume that they can go back into it at 100%. However, disuse of the muscles for a period of time can cause the muscles to weaken and lose definition. This muscle atrophy means that they are unable to perform to the level they could prior injury. In order to avoid further damage, when returning to exercise you should start at around 50% of your normal level and increase this by around 10% every week. Stretching and warming up thoroughly before a work out and finishing with cool down exercises will further decrease the risk of muscle strains. Listening to your body is crucial in the recovery process. A little discomfort in the affected area is normal however, a lot of pain is your body's way of telling you to stop. Trying to push past this may result in further injury to the area.

Shake Up You Regime

To get muscle strength back to its prior level it is best to do a range of exercises that work out various muscle groups. Start off with gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming, to get the body working again. Once a certain level of flexibility and power is regained, more high-intensity exercises can be included to build strength up again. If a specific muscle was hurt, opt for exercises that work out the surrounding areas while allowing the affected muscle to rest and recover.

Tailor Your Diet

As well as modifying your exercise regime, recovery time can be affected by the foods you are eating, and picking certain foods can help to speed up the time taken to return to a normal state. Fight swelling by including plenty of anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, such as green, leafy vegetables, and spices such as ginger and turmeric. Studies have shown that Omega-3 oils can reduce inflammation as well, so include fatty fishes in your diet. To repair damaged tissues the body will need high amino acid levels, so eat plenty of protein-rich foods, while increasing your intake of vitamin C will help to restrengthen bones.

As a rule of thumb the amount of time needed to return to your previous level of fitness should be roughly equivalent to the time taken off due to injury, however, this can vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Following steps to ease back into exercise, as opposed to attempting to go all out immediately, can aid the recovery process and allow you to build up strength again in a safe and sustainable manner.