Returning to your workout after an injury can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Even if you’ve been a fitness enthusiast all your life, a break from workouts might make you fearful or overwhelmed at the idea of resuming exercise again. Lack of confidence, a dip in form, or just the idea of starting all over can discourage a return. Major injuries, for example, can severely limit your workout program or halt it to a complete stop. A feeling of deflation might sink in and impact not just your physical but also your mental health.
However, remembering a “mind over matter” mantra is the easiest way to ease your way back into a workout plan, and bouncing back strong from injury is very much possible. Turn your recovery process into your next workout challenge as if it were a competition, and push yourself to become successful. The goal of returning to your usual workout program can then be your inspiration! Here are five tips that will help you return to your workout full speed ahead.
Never assume anything about your pain. Don’t seek clarification and confirmation about an injury online because you’ll get many contradicting answers with tons of incorrect and potentially dangerous information. Getting a formal diagnosis is the first step towards recovery, most importantly because you find out what is required to get better. Some types of injury may require you to visit a personal trainer or physical therapist a few times a week, while others will require a strict diet and complete rest from the gym. Listen to your body, but more importantly listen to professionals. If you have any concern that it’s serious, seek medical attention. They will help you put together a treatment plan that is strictly for you, your needs, and your injury. And remember: it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Recovery without the right assistance might exacerbate your injury and cause you even more time away from the gym.
By understanding how the injury occurred in the first place is an important next step. Reviewing your workout steps and previous moves might give you some insight into what went wrong, but more importantly, how you can avoid the same mistake in the future. It could have been something as simple as not spending enough time warming up, not tightening your straps, using the wrong technique, or just pushing yourself too hard. Maybe it was an accident, but oftentimes accidents are the result of another issue at-hand. No matter the reason, understanding the step leading up to what went wrong can support you mentally as well as physically. The knowledge and understanding around this event will build confidence towards your recovery plan and prevent further injury or similar events from occurring in the future.
After receiving a diagnosis and reviewing your past actions, an action-based recovery plan can now be put into place. A personal trainer or physiotherapist can help you construct an appropriate plan that focuses on building strength and confidence as well as correcting any poor techniques and movements. Any muscles imbalances or further pain can then be evaluated, monitored, and planned for whenever necessary. A well-constructed and consistent exercise recovery plan will help you to return from an injury in a safe and timely manner.
Even though you may not be working out or exercising as intensely in recent months, this does not mean you should fuel your body any differently. In fact, during a period of injury, nutrition is an aspect of your health that you still have total control over, and will ultimately play a key role in returning to your workouts. The effects that a lack of exercise can have on a person’s health can be detrimental, but a nutritious and well-balanced diet with high levels of hydration will speedily air recovery. To support your intake further, supplements with valuable vitamins and minerals can be added to provide your diet with some extra assistance while you’re recovering.
Back on Plan
Consistency is key here! Continue with your devised recovery plan until both your physical and mental strength return to a more familiar stage. Taking additional care around certain injuries will help from further damage, but remember to balance this with building strength and stabilization. As alluded to earlier, warming up before starting any form of exercise, regardless of its intensity, is vital to recovery.
One piece of advice is to follow the 10% rule. This rule allows you to ease back into your workouts in small manageable stages. Cut your original workouts down to 10% of what you used to do initially, and then increase your workload by 10% every workout moving forward. Whether it’s using weights, running, or jumping, this micro-plan will aid a steady recovery. These 10% blocks of increased workout loads will help you manage your own pace and confidence with each exercise.