If you have an injury the correct response is to rest and give it time to heal. However many people mess up the next step which is a slow progression back to their prior level of activity. The all-or-nothing mentality is unsafe when it comes to recovery. If you go full throttle, your recovery may be hindered and you’ll risk re-injury. So it is crucial to learn the “2 P’s”: Patience & Progress. Be patient and know that in as little as two weeks you can lose strength, lean muscle, and aerobic capacity. So your body is not prepared to return to 100% of your normal workout right away. Instead you will need to progress slowly from 0 to 100%. Below are tips for each stage of the recovery process:
Self treatment for the first couple days
- -Rest and get plenty of sleep
- -Ice and Compress the area a couple times a day for 15 minutes
- -Elevate the area if possible, especially if swelling is present
- -Hydrate well
- -Eat healthy and avoid sugars
- -Consider taking Vitamin supplementation
Self treatment throughout the next week or two
- -Address the underlying cause of the injury to prevent future injury (this could be muscle imbalances, poor posture, muscle weakness, instability)
- -Light massage
- -Postural exercise (sit up tall, squeeze shoulder blades back, pull belly button to spine)
- -If the injury is not improving, you may want to see a Physician or Physical Therapist
Slow progression back normal
- -Once you feel better and ready to get back to working out, follow the 25% rule: Perform a workout at 25% of your normal duration and 25% of your normal weight/resistance. So if you usually lift weights for 60 minutes, your first day back should only be 15 minutes and a quarter of your normal effort. Increase by 10% each workout so you reach 100% after 8 workout sessions. That is a general guideline but ultimately, listen to your body to decide if you should progress again.
- -If you get dizzy or lightheaded, stop.
- -Hydrate well especially before and after your workout
- -Consider using a brace if instability is present (ie elbow, wrist, knee, or ankle injury)
- -Use a spotter if you feel unsteady
- -Modify exercises if they are causing pain or discomfort. This may include include machines instead of free weights to provide more stability. Another option is to use machines with stoppers and adjustable settings to limit the range of motion you are strengthening within.
- -Stretch post-workout
- -Use a foam roll post-workout to provide myofascial release
- -Ice post-workout if swelling is present
Now you are ready to go back into your normal workouts at full force!
Now let’s shift focus and talk a out recovering from Illness.
Being sick with a cold, flu, cough, or stomach issues can drastically affect your energy level and physical abilities. So a gradual progression back to working out after being sick is also very important. While sick, follow the tips below
- -Hydrate well.
- -Rest and get plenty of sleep. Do not workout. Working out will cause muscle micro-tears which leads to inflammation. So your immune system has to work on repairing your muscles instead of fighting your infection.
- -Try not to lie down too long. Sit up and practice deep breathing techniques.
- -Consider taking Vitamin supplementation.
- -Eat healthy
Once your sickness is completely gone, then you can use the same progression tips (as for injuries) to slowly get back to your normal routine. But be sure to not linger in your wet/sweaty clothes after a workout. Also, wash your hands well, especially at the gym!