Exercise After Injury

Adequate warm-up, regular stretching, and proper technique will help ward off the dreaded injury. However, despite our best efforts, the question is not “if” but rather “when” an injury will occur. Exercise-related injuries can occur as a result of chronic overuse or as a result of an acute (sudden) event. Allowing these events to push us off the exercise bandwagon can lead to a devastating sedentary lifestyle.

Of course, injuries unrelated to exercise (broken bones, surgeries, concussion, etc.) also threaten our exercise routines. In either case, seeking professional advice concerning specific exercise limitations is the best first step. Often, one body part can be eliminated from the routine while still maintaining a balance among flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular training.

Consistency is more important than quantity. Unless recommended by a physician – such as with a concussion – refraining completely from exercise can potentially be a deathblow to long-term health and fitness. If nothing more, even small, low-intensity workouts can pay huge dividends by keeping you on track until you fully recover.

Let effort, rather than numbers, guide you. Following surgery, I often recommend that my patients start cardiovascular-based exercise as early as one to two weeks post-op. The target level of effort should be “slightly winded.” Since exercise requires more effort following surgery (or any type of injury), adequate benefit can be achieved with much lower “numbers” on the machines. As a result, your heart rate will increase with less mechanical risk to your musculoskeletal system.

Variety is your friend. When exercise options are limited, you can easily become bored. Perhaps these modifications could be an opportunity to add diversity to your exercise routine even after you have recovered. A personal trainer can be a great asset for learning alternative exercises, even when an arm or leg is taken completely out of the picture.

Maintaining an exercise routine while recovering from injury requires a large amount of self-discipline. Always use common sense and be assured that the effort will be worth it.