Have your fitness goals been put on pause due to injury or surgery? Are you itching to get back on track at your local gym? We get it; that’s pretty common. But before you dive back into your workout, we want to offer you a few simple rules for getting back into the swing of things at your gym.
Listen to your doctor. Before you do anything, make sure you have your doctor’s OK to go back to the gym. (If you’ve been working with a physical therapist or other sports medicine expert, ask them, too.) We know you’re eager to exercise, but DO NOT do anything they tell you not to do. You don’t want to set your progress back or make your injury worse.
Get in the right headspace. It’s a simple fact that you won’t be operating at the same capacity you were before your injury – at least, not yet. Situations vary, but when you return to the gym you should start at about half the intensity of your usual workout. Up the intensity a little bit week after week, and soon enough you should be back to full strength. Again, consult your doctor or physical therapist on reasonable progression for your workouts, cardio and otherwise.
Warm up and cool down. Now that you’re setting realistic goals for your workout at your local gym, it’s time to ease yourself into and out of those workouts. Don’t neglect the need to stretch, warm up, and cool down from every workout. Spend about 3-5 minutes warming up and cooling down, or more as your doctor advises.
If it hurts, stop! Listen to your body! Little twinges of pain can help you recognize when you’ve made gains in your workout, but if you’re in true pain, you need to stop. If you feel persistent pain for hours after your workout, you pushed too hard. Take a few days off – you’ll thank yourself in the long run. When you return to your workout, scale back the intensity and work your way up again.
Branch out. Cross-training can help you achieve whole-body fitness while the part of your body that’s injured regains strength. Hurt your knee? Try adding swimming to your routine for a relatively low-impact activity. If you hurt your arm or wrist, try a lower-body activity (like soccer or long distance running) to keep yourself moving.
Ice it up. After a run or workout, be sure to ice your injured areas to help decrease pain and inflammation and enhance healing. About 15-20 minutes should do the trick, and any more than that risks frostbite. If you’re able, ice 3 to 5 times a day for maximum benefit.
Have any questions about returning to the gym after a physical injury? Come on in to any Fitness Connection gym and ask away. The experts at your local gym are always happy to be your Fitness Connection.