After an injury and having to be away from your training programme for a prolonged period of time, it can be difficult to know when it’s safe to return or have the motivation in order to do so. Being away from training can have a changing effect on the body – the metabolism can slow down and therefore cause muscle mass to decrease. Do not fear though; muscle memory will mean your body can progress and adjust quickly as you start getting back into a routine. Just like you remember to ride a bike after years out of the saddle, your body will remember your activity of choice whether that be weight lifting, cardio, HIIT or CrossFit. Here are some tips on how to return to exercise successfully after a long time out, without causing further injuries.
Get The OK From Your GP
It is critically important before returning to exercise to get the OK from your doctor – and to follow their advice. You may need a course of physiotherapy depending on the nature of your injury, or need more rest to recover fully. Alternatively, if your initial injury was due to bad advice from a doctor – which has been known to happen in the past – talk to a medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation. This will not only ensure you get some compensation for the mistreatment but also that this will not happen to another unsuspecting individual. It’s important to seek out medical advice from a professional you trust, and ensure you are not returning to the game too quickly, leaving yourself open to further injury.
Start Small And Work Up
When you’ve been given the go-ahead to get back into exercise, it’s important to re-evaluate and adapt your routine to accommodate the fact that you’ve been out of the game for a while. It is better to set your targets low and be able to build on them, than to push yourself to do more than you can handle and feel disheartened when you are unable to do it – or cause yourself further injury, resulting in you having to take even more time out. Having a natural progression from light exercise and increasing the intensity every few weeks will ensure you build back up the muscle foundation you once had in order to start progressing again.
The shock of exercising after a long time out will mean your body takes longer to recover. It’s important to give yourself enough time to fully recuperate as you are getting back into it, otherwise, you could potentially have a reoccurring injury. Starting off with once a week and then slowly building up to your regular amount over the first couple of months will ensure you are giving your body enough time to get used to the volume of exercise again. Think about it – when you last started out however many years ago – you would have taken the time to build up your stamina and work capacity rather than throwing yourself right into a routine that was way beyond what you were capable of. After an injury, it’s like starting from scratch with the added frustration of knowing what you used to capable of, however you do also have the knowledge to be able to get back there again.
Remember The Three Thirds Of Progress
It’s important when striving to be back at the level you were before your injury, to remember the three thirds of progress: diet, workout and rest. It can be easy to just throw yourself full pelt into the exercise without remembering the other two thirds. Rest we have covered in the last point – but it’s also good to remember that an adequate sleep routine falls underneath this heading too. Getting at least eight hours a night, and being asleep as long before midnight as possible, will be really beneficial to your recovery. Getting to sleep before midnight is optimal as it allows your body to have a full cycle of a deep sleep to naturally waking up. Diet is also a big part of recovery, and you should be making sure you are covering all five food groups: lean meats and poultry, dairy or alternatives, fruit, veg, and grains or cereals. This will enable you to have a well-balanced diet and make sure you’re getting enough of your macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat, and vitamins/minerals) that will aid your recovery, and day to day living. Around 60% of your daily calories should be carbohydrates, 20% should be protein, and 20% fat, to give you a well-rounded diet. They will be the fuel for the ‘exercise’ third of your progress.
Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought about returning to exercise after an injury – be sure to take all the proper precautions to ensure it is a successful and progressive return.