When returning to exercise after an injury or setback, the mental and physical barriers can have a major effect on both your physical performance and mindset.
When you’re ready to start moving and embrace exercise again, you may be disappointed to find that your body can’t function as well as it once did, but don’t let this put you off. By setting yourself small and realistic goals you’ll be fighting fit again in no time.
If you’re on the road to recovery following an injury or returning to training after a break, there are some key things to remember, as training specialist David Wiener explains:
Are you ready?
After an injury, it’s important to get a professional opinion before you start exercising again. You might think you’re ready and feel physically fit and strong, but pushing yourself too hard, too soon could hinder your recovery and even worsen an injury. With this in mind, make sure you get the green light from an expert and consider modifying your training to ensure you prevent any long-term damage.
Adopt a positive mind set
It takes a great deal of time and dedication to become fit and to build lean muscle mass, so don’t be disheartened if your fitness levels and physique take a hit while you’ve been resting. Try to stay positive; you’ve already achieved a lot and will continue to do so, just remember to start slowly and to build up your fitness gradually. It will take time and dedication to regain the speed and strength you once had.
As with anything, patience is key. If you’re just starting out again, prioritise progression. Set yourself small, manageable targets which will help you to get to where you want to be without the risk of further injury. This might mean reducing distances and training load in the short term, but this is actually the fastest way to ensure you’ll be smashing your personal bests again.
Train your whole body
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re training is ensuring you get a full body workout. Functional fitness is important for all aspects of life, and an injury may leave you weaker on one side. If that is the case, still train your body as a whole, and make sure you’re building strength safely and equally. Low impact exercises like swimming and yoga can also help you to regain your strength, and when you’re ready and your body is strong enough, you can progress to higher impact exercises.
Listen to your body
Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to achieve great things can often mean pushing through mental and physical barriers, which isn’t easy. But, you should never be in agony during or following a training session, and post exercise you should soon start to feel better. If this isn’t the case, then it’s likely you’ve pushed yourself too far. There’s no shame in stopping or taking additional rest days to make sure you’re looking after yourself properly and limiting the risk of long-term damage or injury.
One more thing…
It’s important to remember that returning from injury doesn’t mean going back to square one. When you’ve been injured, your body will return to its previous fitness level faster than when it had to build strength and endurance in the first place, so don’t worry about having to build up from nothing - your body has got your back!
Don’t let past injuries or setbacks hold you back. Remember why you exercise and above all enjoy it. Exercise can greatly assist your recovery, so when you’re really ready, lace up your trainers and don’t look back!