Returning to exercise after an injury can be daunting. Sports Rehabilitation Therapist Marcus Cook gives us some factors to think about before returning to physical activity.
If you’ve had a recent injury one of your main concerns is maybe how soon you can return to exercise? The answer to this question is not always easy because each person and injury are unique. Returning too soon can increase your risk of re-injury or developing a chronic problem that could lead to a longer recovery. Although you want to ensure you don’t further damage the injured area exercise is an important part of the healing process.
Returning to exercise, what should you ask yourself?
Firstly do I still have swelling? Swelling is a sign of inflammation so this tells us it’s too soon to return to exercise. Am I pain-free? If the injured area still hurts and you experience sharp pain this is the body’s way of telling you not to use it. However, if it’s a dull ache or a pain you can manage continue to exercise gently. Let pain be your guide. Do I have a full range of movement? Look at comparing your injured side to the uninjured side, how is it different? Remember gentle exercise will benefit your injury and minimise muscle loss. However, before starting an exercise programme after an injury it’s always important to seek advice from your GP or Consultant.
It’s not uncommon for an already active person who’s had an injury return to exercise relatively quickly. This is because their body is already in a good condition, therefore the tissues heal faster. Compare this to an inactive sedentary lifestyle where a person doesn’t exercise. Their injury could take up to four times longer to heal. It doesn’t matter how old you are it’s never too late to start exercising.
Injury prevention tips
Do not ignore minor injuries, treating them early on will prevent them becoming a bigger problem. Look after your body, perhaps now and again treat yourself to a sports massage, this will reduce any pain and aid recovery. A sports massage is beneficial to everyone, it’s not just for elite athletes. Whether you exercise throughout the week or spend time sitting at a desk, a sports massage will help any joint or muscular pain you might have.
In my profession as a sports rehabilitation specialist, I recommend FLexercise to my patients. The professional instruction from qualified teachers and the structure of the classes are safe and well-balanced. This an ideal environment for someone who’s ready to return to exercise. Remember to be patient expect slow gains to start with and be sure to have regular rest days. Lastly be sure to do something you enjoy you’re more likely to stick to it and increase your healing time.