Coming Back From Injury

It sucks, doesn’t it? You were making such good progress in your pursuit of achieving your weight loss or general fitness goals, but then came that dreaded thing every active person despises— suffering an injury. After a few days/weeks/months, the green light to resume training is given to you-- but how confident are you that the injury will not reoccur or return more intensely? In sports, we are often exposed to athletes who are never the same upon returning from an injury and others who excel at levels surpassing their pre-injury accomplishments. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed method that works for everybody. So, how do we maximize the possibility of getting results similar to the latter, instead of the former?

First and foremost, if your injury required medical attention and/or physical therapy, ALWAYS listen to your doctor and therapist. Too many of us, myself included, taking matters in our own hands is tempting and our egos often make that proposition more attractive, but, if you want to maximize recovery, listen to these professionals. If your doctor instructs you to rest, then you must make sure that you rest; however keeping active with the help of your dog is a good way to keep active during your recovery. El Paso has an excellent climate, so you can get plenty of vitamin D during your walks.

When you are on your own, that is when things tend to get a little trickier because all decisions are yours and you alone are accountable for the result. My recommendation on your first day back to the gym: take it easy. Be patient. A lot of times, injuries have us sitting on the sidelines for longer periods than desired, and when finally healthy enough to return to training, it is perfectly normal to desire “tearing it up”, but this is when your injury is incredibly susceptible to aggravation. Personal training is an excellent option to ease oneself back to health.

If you are lifting weights, start with light weight and light repetitions, depending on the seriousness of your injury and how recently it took place. If experiencing discomfort, lighten the load; if it goes from discomfort to pain, it is best practice to move on to training a different area. For example, if returning from a pulled hamstring, if leg curls are painful, do bodyweight squats. However, if the squats were also causing pain, I would recommend rescheduling leg day for a later date. Additionally, learn to be patient and embrace your off-days.

The key to returning to your pre-injury self is proper reconditioning, which requires patience. Again, the greater the severity of the injury, the longer the duration to return to form. In some cases, it is possible for one to be healthy enough to increase intensity, but psychologically hesitant. Do you recall the example of the athlete who never regained his/her full capabilities? For many football players returning from injuries such torn ACLs, it is hard to complain about the athlete’s hesitance to take as many risks as he would have taken prior to the injury predominately because he does not want to revisit the blinding pain that comes with tearing the same ACL, again. When this is your situation, seek a professional’s help. First, have your injury checked by your doctor and even get a second opinion if you believe he/she might be mistaken. It is also good practice to work with a physical therapist or Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist or Certified Personal Trainer to develop proper workout plans for you.

In the end, coming back from an injury is definitely not the best time to show off to El Paso. Keep your ego in check, be patient and train, eventually, you will be back to your old form.

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