Suffering from an injury can feel like a huge setback, especially if the injury is pretty severe and you have to take weeks or months off from training. However, working out after injury is possible. Granted, you won’t be able to go in as hard as you may have pre-injury, but you can work back up to it. On the first few trips back to the gym after injury, keep these 3 tips in mind.
Take Your Time
When you finally get the green light to go back into the gym from your doctor, you do not want to dive in where you left off. This is a common mistake athletes make because they feel like they have to make up for missed time. You do not want to do this!
Why? Because when you experience an injury like a patellar injury, the direct cause of said injury may not be so clear. This is especially true of you experience the same injury a number of times and you don’t go to the doctor – instead you will use the RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate) until it feels better again.
By taking it easy and gradually increase your workout, you can better identify the cause of your injuries and take necessary precautions like wearing the appropriate gear, such as a knee wrap, a wrist wrap, or a back brace.
Have Patience And Seek Physical Therapy
Chances are if you’ve sustained an injury as a result of training, your doctor may tell you that you need to go to physical therapy. Okay, we know, we know – therapy exercised are not what you want to do. You want to get back to lifting, but… Hear us out.
When your doctor tells you to go to physical therapy, it isn’t for their benefit, it’s for yours. When you work those rehab exercises into your training program, you will see yourself improve over time. The tissues in your body requires a lot of time to repair themselves. This is especially true for connective tissues because they adapt to our movements less quickly than muscle tissue.
By incorporating the physical therapy exercises into your workout, you will feel like you aren’t working toward your goal (whatever that may be), but trust your doctor!
You can set up a serious of milestones and progressions to help you feel like you’re doing something. Usually, the first step will be to restore pain-free range of motion. Once this is achieved, you know your acute injury has fully healed. Then, your physical therapist will begin addressing other problems that may have been the result of your injury.
This includes improved mobility, flexibility, and strength in the muscles. And, just like with your regular training, you can set up mobility tests with your physical therapist, doctor, or alone to see how you’re progressing. If you still feel pain, document it and discuss it with your PT.
Once you’ve been able to achieve full mobility, strength, and flexibility, your doctor will give you the go-ahead to incorporate dynamic warm ups and other movements that are geared for your specific sport.
Preventing Future Injuries
When you do finally get back to your regular routine, you will want to do what you can to avoid re-injury. This includes surrounding yourself with people who are very familiar with the type of workout you’re doing.
This can be coaches, trainers, or even clinicians. Ask them to help you identify your weaknesses and imbalances. They will be able to assess your movement patterns, gauge your strength, and monitor your flexibility.
Unfortunately, you cannot rely on skill alone to protect you from being injured again. You have to have the trifecta: an equal balance of strength, mobility, and flexibility. After all, all of these things will help you reach your goals.
Another way you can prevent injury is by incorporating unilateral movements into your workout routine. These exercises will focus and correct balance and strength in an individual limb, instead of the entire body.
This help because you can focus on gradually working up the injured body part. For example, if you had a fractured knee cap and you couldn’t lift for a while, that leg is going to be weaker than the uninjured leg.
It’s important that when you are working out, you always have a plan – even if you’re coming back from injury. Just like when you set milestones during your recovery, setting milestones in your workout routine and documenting your progress will help you see how far you’ve come, but it’ll also show you patterns that can help you prevent another injury.
Any bodybuilder or powerlifter will tell you that injuries will happen as you work to achieve your goals – if you aren’t careful. But, even then, you cannot plan for accidents. Should you ever find yourself injured and have to take some time off from training, it’s going to be difficult not pushing yourself as hard as you used to when you’re feeling better.
You have to take it easy and do the recovery exercises your physical therapist (if your doctor recommended you see one) tells you to do.
Those recovery exercises are intended to help regain strength, mobility, and flexibility. You’ll want to take note of how you feel when performing these exercises so you can rely any concerns and pains to your physical therapist.
The ultimate goal for working out after injury is to do what you can to avoid injury in the future. Skill alone isn’t going to protect you from fractures or breaks, but preventive measures can certainly help!