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Return from an Injury the Smart Way to Keep Your Body Healthy


Return from an Injury the Smart Way to Keep Your Body Healthy

With an injury now behind you, it’s important to take a smart route back into your fitness routine. Follow the steps below to avoid reinjury and keep your body healthy and strong.

1. Start low

Yoga, swimming or riding a stationary bike are the go-to activities when returning from a shoulder, knee, ankle or back injury. These low-impact options allow you to get in a workout with minimal stress on your body.

2. Brace yourself

Wearing a brace can help to reduce pressure on the joint and prevent swelling or reinjury. Worn over a knee, ankle or elbow, a well-constructed brace stabilizes the joint and should feel tight without restricting movement at the joint. You may want to wear a brace for a short period as you return to fitness, or for long-term support.

3. Add weights and a stretching routine

Weight training helps to reverse muscle loss as we age. You don’t have to hit the gym to build bulging muscles, but even a light training program that tones muscle and maintains mass, and can help you stay healthy as you resume activity.

Slow stretches with extended holds also helps recover from injuries caused by repetitive motion, like running or swinging. Tendons are like rubber bands that become more loose and flexible during running, jumping or swinging the arms and shoulders. Stretching before an activity allows the tendons to warm up and perform more effectively. Likewise, stretching after an activity allows the body to cool down and begin gentle recovery.

4. Seek out support

A physical therapist or trainer will create a personalized program to help heal your injury. With their knowledge of musculature and mechanics, a PT or gym trainer can also provide additional exercises to keep your body healthy.

Also consider training or playing with friends who understand your physical limitations (whether temporary or permanent). Running with a friend can help keep you upbeat about recovery, instead of focusing on your temporary setback. If you’re not ready to head back to the soccer field or basketball court, reach out to a teammate to practice together casually one-on-one or even watch a game together.

5. Accept Rest

Whether you are returning from just a few days of rest or a long period of inactivity, don’t try to start back up at the same volume or intensity. For a body that has suffered an injury, rest is absolutely critical to recovery and maintaining long-term health. Resuming an activity too quickly on a weakened joint, strained muscle or fractured bone increases the chances of sustaining a more serious injury.

As you begin to build more activity after an injury, listen to your body’s signals. Timing for full recovery varies per person and by the type and extent of the injury. Following these steps, you can ease back into your routine and enjoy many years of healthy exercise.