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Back to the gym after a serious injury

You have been out for months, thoroughly missing the gym and exercise and you can’t wait to get back. That time has finally arrived, so what should you do to get restarted on your journey to full fitness?

Even though you may be ready to smash your goals, your body may still be telling you otherwise. Keep in mind that if you want your comeback to last, follow these steps accordingly:

1. Get professional advice from a Physiotherapist or Doctor.

A doctor’s opinion should not be undervalued, they will know the precautions and possible setbacks that could occur should you not be fully fit enough to return to the gym

A physiotherapist should have taught you specific moves to strengthen and stretch the injured area. So, seek their guidance too.

If you are returning to a team or individual sport such as football or squash then you shouldn’t return to your sport or activity until the swelling or pain has reduced significantly. Pushing yourself too soon could make your recovery take longer or make your injury worse, so be sure you get the green light from an expert.

2. Mentally prep yourself.

Think about WHY you got injured in the first place and really focus on how to avoid it next time, if indeed it was avoidable.

Did you add too much weight to those bench reps or push your body way beyond its limits? Did you rest enough between each session. You might not have done anything “wrong,” but sometimes there’s a lesson to be learned from your mishap.

Most injuries are relatively temporary, you could be out from anywhere to a week or a few months so it makes sense to remind yourself that you will be able to return to the sport or activity you enjoyed. It’s just going to take some time to regain the speed and strength you had.

3. Take it easy in the beginning.

Run shorter distances, do less weights, play less sports. Build up slowly and naturally to your previous levels and sure enough you’ll get there and possibly be even better than before.

A good guideline is to start at about 50% of your “normal” level and increase only 10% to 15% each week — assuming your symptoms don’t flare-up during or after each session.

For example, do 45 minutes of gym exercises instead of an hour. It is also vitally important to take your time to warm up and cool down afterwards and add more stretching, although this may be tedious, your body will thank you by getting injured less.

4. Try out other training you aren’t familiar with to activate different muscles.

Cross-training — doing a variety of activities that work different parts of your body — is key. It helps you stay fit while the part of your body that’s injured regains strength. It can also help you avoid getting injured again.

If you hurt your knee while biking, for instance, consider adding a low-impact activity such as swimming to your routine. Or if you fell and hurt your wrist going for a match-point shot in tennis, hiking or another lower-body activity lets your injury heal while you keep moving.

5. Listen to your body – or your personal trainer who may know your body very well.

A little discomfort is OK. A lot is not. If you feel a slight pain while exercising, pushing past it can help you make gains. But you should never be in agony, and you should feel better soon after you stop moving.

If the pain is very bad, or if it lasts for an hour or more after you’ve completed your exercise, take that as a sign that you’ve gone too far. You may have to rest for 1 to 3 days before you try again. And when you do, keep it at a less-intense level so you feel good during and after your workout.