For anyone who loves to exercise – be it jogging each morning before work, heading to the gym at lunchtime, or swimming each evening before heading home, an injury can be a total and complete nightmare, especially if you’re in training for an event. Getting injured means lost time working out, having to sit out of your favorite exercise classes or sports matches, and feeling totally and completely defeated. You feel disheartened and upset and can even end up losing your motivation because of it.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case, if you’re proactive about your recovery, sometimes an injury can just make you even more determined to meet your fitness goals and get into the best shape of your life. If you want to ensure that following an injury you are able to return to working out as soon as possible, take note of the steps below for getting back to exercising after an injury. Remember, the worst thing that you can do is rush the process, as by doing so, you may end up making your injury even worse and upping the time that healing takes.
Step 1: Give yourself time to rest and recuperate
When you’ve suffered a serious sports injury, the most important thing is to give yourself time to rest and recuperate. Rushing the healing process is a big no-no and not something that you want to do. It might be annoying being stuck resting all of the time, unable to go for a run or pump some iron, but you need to give your body time to heal. If you’re on bed rest, the chances are you’re going out of your mind with boredom, so the best thing to do is to find something to distract you from your situation, this could be finding a new book to read, looking for a Netflix series to binge on, or choosing a new hobby, such as adult coloring or crocheting, to keep yourself busy. Rest really is the best healer, so make sure to give yourself adequate time to rest and recuperate after an injury, speeding up the healing process.
Step 2: Do as your doctor says
If your doctor has told you not to walk further than a few yards on your sprained ankle, then don’t. If you’ve been told to spend as much time with your leg elevated as possible, do it. If you’ve been told not to use your arm for anything for at least four weeks, take note. What it’s important to understand is that your doctor wouldn’t tell you to do something unless it was necessary, so make sure to listen to whatever they say. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you know best, because the truth is, no matter how much you want to believe that you do, you don’t. The consequences of not listening to your doctor range from having a longer healing period to doing permanent damage, so ask yourself, is it really worth disregarding what your doctor says?
Step 3: See a physiotherapist
The chances are, whatever your injury, your doctor has recommended that you see a physiotherapist to help speed up your recovery time. Whether you’ve broken a bone, torn a muscle, or damaged a joint in some way or another, physiotherapy should be able to help strengthen the affected area and reduce your healing time. So it’s definitely worth looking into seeing a specialist, so that you can get back to doing what you love, more quickly. How physiotherapy works is that your physiotherapist will assess your injury and will look at ways to help you strengthen the affected area. This may be via manipulation of the bones or muscles – this doesn’t tend to hurt so don’t panic – or via exercise for helping to strengthen the affected area. A physiotherapist can also advise you about the steps that you should take when starting to exercise again and can help you to determine when you’re ready to do that.
Step 4: Start slowly
Even once you’ve got the approval of your doctor or physiotherapist that it’s okay to start exercising again, it’s important to start slowly. You can’t expect to be able to pick up where you left off before suffering a serious sports injury – it will take time to get back to where you were before, and it’s important to understand that. It’s best to work on a workout plan with your doctor or physio that highlights what you can and cannot do. For example, say you used to run for five miles at a time at a fast pace, it may be recommended that you start off power walking over a shorter distance to strengthen your injured area. Then, slowly you begin jogging over a short distance, building up your speed, stamina, and strength over time, until you get back to where you were before – this could take weeks or even months, and it’s important to realize that.
Step 5: Fuel your body
After an injury, the affected area will always be slightly weaker than it was before, which is why it’s so important to ensure that you are getting all of the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. You see, by fueling your body with the right foods, you can help to strengthen the injured area, making it less prone to secondary problems. As well as eating a healthy, clean diet and drinking plenty of water – at least two liters a day, it’s also important to look into the different supplements that you could take to help strengthen your joints. For this, supplements like glucosamine and MSM and chondroitin are good – to learn more about these and other useful supplements for improving bone and joint health, read up online. (There are plenty of useful resources that you can use for this.)
Getting back to exercising after an injury isn’t always easy; it can be tiring, stressful, and at times completely and utterly frustrating, especially when you have a long recovery period, but if you take note of the tips above, you can get back to where you were before, fitness-wise.