Injuries can be an unfortunate consequence of living an active lifestyle. Though injuries are not inevitable, few adults who exercise every day should expect to avoid injury entirely.
Allowing an injury to heal can be difficult, especially for exercise enthusiasts whose workouts are a substantial part of their daily routines. But allowing the healing process to run its course can strengthen the body and reduce the risk of future injuries.
As their bodies heal, adults may be tempted to rev up their workout routines. But it's important that men and women take a cautious approach to exercising after injury.
- Speak with your physician before lifting a finger. Whether your injury required surgery or not, it's important to speak with your physician before performing any activities that were restricted while you were injured. Book an appointment with your doctor so he or she can examine you to confirm you're ready for physical activity. If your physician clears you, ask for him or her to be as specific as possible, telling you what you can and cannot do at this stage and how you should adjust your routine as your body once again grows acclimated to physical activity.
- Modify your routine. It's unreasonable to expect your body to dive back into vigorous physical activity after an injury. Modify your routine, ideally under the supervision of a physician and/or physical trainer, as your body recovers. This might mean lifting far less weight than you're accustomed to or lowering the resistance on the treadmill or elliptical machine. Depending on how long you were sidelined, your recovery may be frustrating and you may find yourself taking a gradual approach that's marked by incremental and seemingly minor successes. But a modified post-injury workout routine can promote healing, prevent further injury and get you back to working out at full strength that much quicker.
- Continue physical therapy. If physical therapy was prescribed as a result of your injury, don't stop going just because your physician has given you the green light to return to physical activity. When your physician clears you for physical activity, ask him or her about physical therapy and if it's still necessary. Your therapist may provide your doctor with a progress report on your condition, and the doctor can use that report to determine if you still need therapy. But keep in mind that physical therapy can aid your recovery, even after you return to physical activity. Abandoning therapy too early may lead to you reinjuring yourself, which will only extend the time you spend on the sidelines.
- Listen to your body. Listen to your body in addition to your physician and/or physical therapist. Your body will likely let you know through an ache or a pain if you need to take things a little easier during your post-injury workouts. No matter how hard you want to get back to your old routine, don't ignore the signals your body is sending you.