How To Ease Yourself Back Into An Exercise Routine After An Injury
Exercise has many great benefits for our physical and mental health, but sometimes you may develop a fear of exercising after an injury. I get it. You don’t want to reinjure yourself and set yourself back. Doing any physical movement while injured may prompt your body to respond with pain or discomfort. That is why it is essential to ease yourself back into exercising after an injury. It is also equally important to not omit exercise from your life once you are fully recovered. Staying on the sideline too long will cause you to lose your motivation and even more muscle strength.
Now that you’re ready to get back to your favorite activities, you will have to accept yourself as a beginner again in most cases. You may also consider working out with a fitness coach or an exercise therapist as you begin again. Getting back into a rhythm will require persistence, strategy, and a willingness to accept and love your new body and what it is capable of. After all, it just healed itself! With time and consistency, you will find yourself stronger than ever!
To help you with this transition, I’m sharing six ways to ease yourself back into an exercise routine after any injury. Remember to go at your own pace. If necessary, don’t be afraid to bring in an expert depending on the severity of your injury.
6 Ways to Ease Back into an Exercise Routine
1. Start Slow. No matter what type of exercise you incorporate back into your routine, start with only a quarter of what you were able to do before your injury.
For example, if you previously ran or walked one mile, you would run or walk at a 1/4 of a mile and then give yourself a break for the remainder of the day. Your body will probably allow you to do more than that at the moment, but you should take a break and rest. It may feel okay while you are walking or doing the exercise. But, wait until the next day to assess how your body is feeling. If you find that you feel well, and you’re not sore, you can add another 1/4 mile to your walk. Rest after 1/2 a mile and assess how you feel the next day. If you are not sore, add another 1/4 mile, and so on. If you feel sore at any point, be sure to stick with that amount of walking or exercise time for a few days or weeks. As your body gets used to it and you feel comfortable, add more movement. Remember, you’ve come so far up to this point, you do not want to reinjure yourself.
2. Try Walking First. Walking is the most comfortable exercise to ease into after an injury. Walking will also allow you to assess your recovery and readiness to incorporate more movement. It is easy on your joints, and you can monitor your pace and stop at any point if your body is uncomfortable or sore.
3. Stick to a short routine. Just try about ten minutes to start. Once you feel comfortable walking, pick 3-4 new low impact exercises that you can do and monitor how you’re feeling along the way.
Here are four low impact exercises you can try to ease yourself into more movement.
- Squats using your own body weight. You can adjust how far you go down, which is important when you’re just starting back. You can also put an ottoman behind/underneath you just in case you can’t hold your balance. Doing this will give you a little extra security.
- Water walking or water exercises are great low impact exercises. If you want to learn more about the benefits of water walking, check out our other post here.
- Core exercises, such as sit-ups or crunches, will help you build your core muscles. When your core is strong, it will help support your back muscles and improve your overall body strength. If you’re struggling with low back pain, be sure to read our free guide here on how to eliminate it.
- Yoga is a gentle method to begin rebuilding your strength, especially if you practice a slow method. Read more about types of yoga here, You’ll want to start with a gentle yoga practice.
4. Start Light. If you are adding weight lifting into your routine, start with lighter weights, or use your body weight. If you want to add a challenge, add a few more repetitions rather than an additional exercise. As an example, try doing just a squat without adding any weight. Master this exercise with only your body weight before adding any extra weight.
5. Ask a friend to join you in your routine. This is a good idea for a few reasons. You will have an accountability partner who will help you maintain momentum. An exercise buddy will also be there in case you need help in positioning or ensuring you’re not overdoing it. Sometimes we think we are okay, but our body language and expressions say otherwise. Your friend can help you identify any potential pain points and help ensure you’re not overdoing it.
6. Give yourself grace and time to rebuild. You shouldn’t compare your new exercise routine to your exercise routine before your injury. Love your body in its current state, give yourself grace, and you’ll be able to work up to building more strength. The last thing you want to do is reinjure your body by pushing yourself too hard. Listen to your body. If something is hurting, stop the exercise, and evaluate your position and posture. Stabilize your spine by engaging your core/ab muscles and on building your core strength. You can even incorporate rehabilitation core exercises.
These tips will help you on your road to building your strength again. Your body is fully capable of healing and rebuilding strength.
Keep yourself well hydrated, fuel your body with whole foods, including lots of vegetables and quality protein. Lastly, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep to help your body recover from your workouts and rebuild itself. Your body heals itself while you sleep.
Let us know if you have experienced an injury and how you got back to exercising in the comments below!