Have you found yourself working too hard at the gym, and now you have a few more aches and pains than you’re used to? Athletic injuries aren’t a joke. If you rush getting back to working out — or worse, never take a break at all — you could permanently injure yourself or limit your ability to gain your strength back.
If you’ve recently injured yourself in the gym, adhere to the below tips, and you should be successful.
Consult With Your Doctor First and Foremost
You may be impatient to get back into the gym, but your doctor will know best. If you’ve been working closely with a physical therapist or medical professional, you’ll want to discuss the best plan for your return to exercise before you rush it. If you haven’t been working with a physical therapist, your primary doctor may also recommend specific rehabilitation moves and stretching your injury.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid returning to exercise if you’ve continued to notice pain, swelling, or stiffness. If you push yourself too hard too soon, you run the risk of making your injury worse and prolonging recovery.
Consider What You Could Have Done Differently
Getting injured is not a personal failing, but it can be a learning opportunity. If you pushed your body too hard or you didn’t have the proper footwear for your chosen activity, it’s essential to reflect on that. If you’ve been trying to navigate the gym on your own, use this opportunity to consult with a trainer on the best techniques for avoiding future industries and other best practices for the gym.
Don’t Jump Back in at Full Strength
You can’t return to the gym expecting to hit the ground running with your old routine. Generally, it’s recommended that you return to the gym with the expectation that you’ll be able to perform at roughly half the strength of your healthy self. You should only increase your threshold by about 10% each week until you’re back to full health. If you notice a flare-up during or after a workout, you may have moved too quickly and aggravated your injury.
For example, if you used to run full speed for 10 miles, you may only be able to walk a portion of that until you are back to normal. Additionally, it’s essential to warm up and cool down from your workouts every time. These gentle exercises prepare and decompress your body to minimize the risk of future injury.
Try Something Different
If you’re used to powerlifting or running marathons, switch it up. This is called cross-training. Cross-training helps you stay in shape and maintain the strength of other parts of your body without further aggravating an injury that needs more time to heal. Low-impact sports like swimming, walking, and light yoga can help you stay active until you’re cleared to be 100%.
Be Attuned to Your Body
There is no hard and fast rule for when you can expect to be ready to return to the gym after an injury; every body is different, and as such, it can take more time for one body to heal. If you start working out and notice your injury flaring back up, there is no shame in taking it slow and giving your body more rest. Listening to your body is one of the best ways to avoid injuring yourself at the gym.