Whatever your injury, whether it was a calf strain from running or a knee ligament strain from hockey, after a while you’re just itching to get moving again. To avoid compounding your injury on your return to exercise, follow these steps:
- Make sure your injury rehab is complete and get your medical professionals confirmation of the appropriate timing.
So, you feel ready to starting pounding the pavement or to start hitting some golf balls. Is your body really ready? A visit with your medical professional will be the best way to determine this. If you've been completing your rehab under the direction of a physiotherapist then they are best placed to advice you what to do. Your therapist will teach you specific stretches and exercises to strengthen and stretch the injured area.
Trying to return to exercise and working through the pain and stiffness will most likely make your recovery take longer or is likely to worsen your injury, so before your return, make sure to get the green light from an expert.
- Prepare for your return.
Once your physiotherapist has given you the OK to return to exercise, spend some time preparing. Listen to the directions from your therapist about stretching and strengthening the injured area and make sure that you actually do as you have been advised. In addition, think back on how you got injured in the first place, did you push yourself beyond your limits? Did you complete a proper warm-up or cool-down? Did you take your rest days? Anything that you can identify what you were doing incorrectly before you got injured should will help you avoid repeating the injury in the future.
Take time also to prepare yourself to returning to exercise at a lower level from when you got injured. Following recovery, you will be able to return but it will take a period of time to build your strength and endurance back up to what they were pre-injury...this is OK and is part of the injury rehab process.
- Take it easy at the start...
As a safe guide return to exercise or sport at about 50% of your pre-injury level, and increase steadily each week while keeping an eye on your symptoms. If they flare-up during or after exercise then it's best to rest and get advice from your physiotherapist.
An important aspect of injury rehab is completing a proper warm up before you exercise, a cool down after, and stretch. We can all get a bit lazy with this area of exercise so it's important to remember the your warm up and cool down should be completed exactly as your physiotherapist recommended...no shortcuts!
- Listen to your body
Taking the learning's of our previous blog "How do you know when you're too sore to workout", make sure you listen to your body when you start back exercising. A little discomfort is okay...but a lot is not. If you feel some pain while exercising, pushing past it can help you but you should never be in agony. Start slowly and don't push it too hard.