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Getting back into exercise after recovering from a long-term injury

Unless you have been there, it can be difficult to imagine the struggle of getting back into exercising after sustaining a long term injury. Keeping strength up and getting the muscles used to being used again can be traumatic. Through disuse, muscles naturally seize up, which can lead to muscle atrophy.

There are two different forms of muscle atrophy, both of which can be affected by a long-term injury. Disuse atrophy is where the muscles waste away because they have not been used. This can happen if a specific muscle group is simply not worked enough or it can happen because getting the muscles mobile has been impeded by injury. Neurogenic atrophy is specifically related to injury or disease.

There are some other factors which affect your return to exercise such as your age and gender and the type if injury sustained in the first place. Here are some tips about getting physical activity back into your life.


Listen to your body

Whilst it is important to push yourself in order to make progress, it is important that you remember to listen to your body’s limits. There might be days when you can achieve more than others and you should try to take this in your stride as best you can. If you need to, use a wheelchair as support.

Take it slowly

Carrying out any movement relies on muscle memory. This is a process during which your body and brain need to communicate. Take it slowly regarding this, as sometimes pain can cause a delay in the messages getting from your head to your body. Similarly, start by walking. You know the expression you have to learn to walk before you can run. Starting off slow means you can walk a little, measure the impact and then add more.

Listen to pain

When you are recovering, it is vital that you listen to your body for the signals such as being in pain. Starting to use muscles again after a break will cause them to hurt, but you must be aware of pushing through that. Over exertion will ultimately set you back.

Eat well

And stay hydrated. Your body needs a balanced diet and lots of water to make an effective recovery. When exercising, your body needs protein to strengthen muscle tissue. Eating lean proteins such as fish and chicken and lots of leafy vegetables will help restore your body.

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