How to Exercise after a Break or Injury
If you’re just now getting back into a workout routine after a few weeks off for the holidays, or after injuries or laziness kept you grounded for a long time, don’t feel guilty, and don’t worry. You will get that strength and fitness back. Compared to somebody who’s never trained, your experience gives you a huge advantage that’ll make it easier to get back to form. When an extended period of inactivity takes place, the body gradually allows muscles to shut down. This is true for everyone, not only people recovering from illness or injury. If you’re having some trouble getting back into the swing of things, remember the following:
- Don’t beat yourself up
- Evaluate your losses
- Be thankful for how far you’ve come
- Make a plan
- Execute that plan
- Take it slow: Allow your body and brain the time they need to begin communicating again. When your muscles are called to action, even in a relatively simple task, your brain and the muscles and nerves necessary to carry out that task must communicate. These channels of communication weaken over time and with disuse. Unless nerve damage has occurred, the communication signals can definitely be strengthened, but this process takes time; be patient. Your brain and body will relearn, given time and opportunity.
- Flexibility: Flexibility workouts increase blood flow and circulation while assisting in the range of motion and joint mobility. Flexibility is one of the most overlooked protocols of fitness routines, and establishing these protocols early on will allow your body to properly re-adjust to the new demands that will be placed on it. Remember: Pain is pain-Pain is the body’s signal that you’ve gone too far, done too much. Rest and recovery are as important to reintroducing exercise and the physical activity itself.
- Add Easy Cardio: Try incorporating light cardio after a few stretching sessions. If weather permits, a brisk 20-minute outdoor walk will help invigorate your mind and get your body moving again. The treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike are great indoor alternatives. If you had a well-established fitness base prior to a month-long break, your first week may include light jogging as opposed to walking.
- Start Strength Training: After the first week of flexibility and lighter cardio, start to incorporate strength workouts into your routine. Your time away from fitness probably involved a lot of sitting, which causes weakness in your posterior chain. As with all things, slow and steady wins the race. Start with lighter weights and reps and don’t do too much too fast. Listen to your body and work yourself back up to where you used to be.
No matter what it is important to note your limitations! Don’t push yourself further than you can. This could cause injury.