If you love living an active lifestyle or have goals to achieve, getting injured can seem like the worst thing to happen! Dealing with the pain and being forced to rest while you feel like you’re slipping further away from your former strong, fit self can seem defeating. But, the challenges that come from recovering can actually inspire improvement. It all comes down to how you handle your recovery. To make sure you’re on top of your mental and physical game, follow these 6 tips to safely return to training after an injury.
1. Know What You’re Dealing With
Regardless of what you’ve injured, it’s always important to have real injuries assessed by a professional. They’ll help you to understand exactly what’s wrong and how it happened. This will give you a more realistic idea of how long recovery should take and how to ease back into training so you don’t wind up injured again on your first day back.
2. Ease into It
When you’re finally able to train again, you’ll probably motivated to smash those goals. And, if you do try, you’ll probably find that you can perform quite because your body is so well rested. But, doing so will more than likely overload your injured area and could make things worse.
Instead, start off with a lighter version of your usual training load. This might mean lifting less weight, aiming for a lower intensity, shortening the duration of your training session or all of the above.
Generally, you should work out at about half your usual capacity if you’ve been off for less than 3 weeks and reduce that further if it’s been longer. If you manage the load well, aim to add about 10% to your schedule every week.
3. Set Goals and Have a Plan
If you’re the type of person to hit it hard as soon as you get back to training, develop or ask a professional to help you put together a balanced training program. Not only will this help to keep you focused on gradual progression towards your new goals, it’ll also ensure that you take the time to develop the proper strength and flexibility required to address your weaknesses and imbalances and reduce your chance of getting re-injured.
4. Prioritise Warming Up and Cooling Down
We’ve all been guilty of rushing through our warm-ups and cool-downs or even skipping them altogether. But, when you’re returning to training after an injury, you can’t afford to miss these crucial parts of your workout! In fact, you’ll probably benefit from setting even more time aside than usual to warm up and cool down. Make sure to include plenty of dynamic stretches before starting as well as some gentle mobility work on your injured area. To cool down, stretch statically paying particular attention to your injured area.
5. Give Yourself Time
Depending on the nature and severity of your injury, returning to training isn’t easy! If you’re feeling frustrated because you’re not where you used to be, be patient with yourself. Taking the time to ease back into it gives you the opportunity to develop a better foundation for your technique and core strength. Use the time wisely to perfect basic drills you usually wouldn’t make time for. By doing this, you might even end up stronger, fitter and more capable than you were to start with.
6. Listen to Your Body
Last, but not least, ALWAYS listen to your body when you’re returning to training after an injury. It’s definitely NOT the time to try to push through any sort of pain. If it hurts, simply call it quits for the day. Do some gentle stretching and work through some light rehab exercises if you want to. Then, wait however many days until you’re feeling up to it again before you jump back in.
When it comes to safely returning to training after an injury, use that mental toughness and determination that you’ve learnt from being active and apply it to your injury. Stay positive and treat your body well and you just might come out the other side even healthier than before!