Getting sick or injured not only prevents you from going to the gym, it can leave you worrying that you’ll sustain muscle loss or weight gain during your recovery period. Yet rushing your recovery can actually make things worse, not better. Use our tips for getting back to the gym safely after an injury or illness to get back into shape without compromising your recovery.
When Can You Start Getting Back to the Gym?
As a first step, you should talk to your doctor about your injury or illness, your exercise routine, and your goals. Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may suggest that you do physical therapy, light stretching, or other activities during your recovery. After surgery, for example, exercising to the point of breaking a sweat could cause swelling, scarring, or an infection if the wound becomes dirty.
While these light activities aren’t the same as hitting the gym, they can help you feel active. At later points in your recovery, your doctor may recommend that you incorporate walking, stationary cycling, or another form of light exercise.
Whatever your doctor recommends, listen to it. Ask any clarifying questions to make sure that you fully understand. If the doctor says “light rest,” ask whether you can take daily 1-mile walks. If you fail to listen, or assume that you are cleared for an activity without asking directly, you can compromise you’re recovery.
Getting Back to the Gym Safely
Once your doctor gives you the green light to return to the gym, avoid rushing things. Start with a warm-up to get the blood flowing. Then begin to work out, listening to your body.
If you feel pain while you are working out, your body is telling you that you are overdoing it. If you begin to compromise your form, consider that a sign from your body that it needs to rest.
Over the course of the next few weeks, work yourself back up to the level of fitness you were at pre-injury or pre-illness, remembering to listen to your body the whole time. If you get really tired after doing 30 minutes on the elliptical, dial it back to 25 minutes the next time you hit the gym. If you push yourself too hard because you really want to get back in shape, you risk injuring yourself while your body is still vulnerable.
After a Workout
Getting back to the gym after injury or illness might feel good for your mind, but remember that it is challenging for your body. Nourish your body after a workout by drinking plenty of water and eating food that is full of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Try a kale salad with quinoa or grilled chicken, or broiled salmon with brown rice and broccoli.
For more tips on getting back to the gym after illness or injury, contact the personal training staff at your local gym. They are used to working with individuals of all fitness levels, and can make suggestions that allow you to tailor your routine to your recovery.