Returning to exercise after an injury or operation.

October 6, 2016

It can be a very anxious time returning to exercise after an injury or operation. Especially if you have been living with pain for a while, our natural instinct is to protect the injured/painful area. 
From my own experience I know that last thing you want to do is aggravate or hurt this area again or something else, never mind let anyone touch it. 

Yet exercise is key to recovery.
Once you have the all clear from your GP or consultant to return to exercise my advice is to:
1. Start slowly and don't get carried away. Your muscles may be weak and your body compensating for that weakness in other areas. Injury risk is definitely higher if you don't give your body a chance to take it step by step.

2. Find a trainer or instructor who is knowledgeable and can help you. Meet that person, discuss your needs and potential worries to find out which exercises are best for you at this point in time and if you would feel safe.

3. Have your posture checked and body aligned. After the injury/operation and during the healing process we hold ourselves differently to protect the area which may have a negative effect on your posture. Choose a very gentle treatment like the Dornmethod.

4. Have a massage to ease away any tension and allow yourself to relax. Advise the therapist of your injury/operation so the treatment is tailored to you. 

5. Allow for setbacks. When I had my injury it felt like 1 step forward and 2 steps back at times but consistency and perseverance is a must. Yes you will ache, feel weak and tired in the beginning but in the end it will be worth it. Allow 8 to 12 weeks to adjust.

6. Look at your nutrition. With inflammation possibly still present it's important not to fuel inflammation but help to reduce it. Eat unprocessed and fresh local food where possible. Drink plenty of water. 

7. If you are still taking medication ensure you are aware of potential side effects or whether they may affect you during exercise. Inform your trainer/instructor.

8. Bring a friend with you. I certainly understand when people feel very anxious of going back to exercise and a new place. I was. I took my husband with me to build up my confidence and feel safe. 

9. Include more stretching and full body exercises into your exercise routine. Stay away from repetitive one type exercises. Your body needs movement especially to improve range of movement and flexibility again after your injury/operation. Just running or cycling etc will not be sufficient nor suitable.

10. Have fun. If the exercises are fun you will stop being anxious and stick to the workout. Tell your trainer/instructor if you don't enjoy it.  

I hope this has been useful.
I enjoy working with people who are returning to exercise or have a chronic condition. I teach Pilates and exercise for chronic conditions in a small group setting or 1 to 1 basis. Pilates has really helped me with my injury recovery and it can be tailored to any level and ability.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or wish to have a consultation.



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