Anyone who has experienced a long illness or injury will understand the impact such a condition has on their level of physical activity. Normally, doctors and physical therapists tell you to exercise in a modified capacity. In reality, you may not have the energy and ability to do so in the recovery process.
When a long injury or illness takes place, the body gradually allows muscles to shut down. This is true for everyone, no matter your fitness level. The better shape you are in, generally speaking, reintroducing physical activity after injury or illness is easier. Those at a high fitness level tend to bounce back quicker and easier than those who are relatively inactive.
We looked to Mindbodygreen.com for 6 tips to reintroducing physical activity after injury or illness. Here’s what they had to say.
Consider the following things when reintroducing physical activity into your daily life:
1. Take it slow.
Allow your body and brain the time they need to begin communicating again. When your muscles are called to action, even in a relatively simple task, your brain and the muscles and nerves necessary to carry out that task must communicate. These channels of communication weaken over time and with disuse. Unless nerve damage has occurred, the communication signals can definitely be strengthened, but this process takes time; be patient. Your brain and body will relearn, given time and opportunity.
2. Begin with walking.
It’s the most natural type of movement for the human body. Swimming would also be a gentle form of movement on the body. Start with a few minutes, listen to your body’s response and gradually increase your time.
3. Reduce your efforts by at least 20% of what you think you can do and work your way up.
Movement brings humans immense joy. It’s not until you’ve lost or had a reduction in your ability to move as you once did that you realize how joyful movement is. This realization makes people very eager to return to physical activity.
4. Consider working with a physical therapist, kinesiologist, or a movement specialist with an understanding of your condition.
They can provide you with the step-by-step program you need to get you back to the level of physical fitness you want for yourself. Whether your period of inactivity was extensive or not, or your loss of muscle tone interfered with daily living or not, it is helpful to work with someone who can assess your ability to incorporate certain things into your regime and determine your readiness to progress.
5. Remember that pain is pain.
While some fitness enthusiast live by the motto No pain, no gain, when it comes to illness or injury nothing could be further from the truth. Pain is the body’s signal that you’ve gone too far, done too much. Rest and recovery are as important to reintroducing exercise and the physical activity itself. Give your body time and listen to it. It speaks volumes about what it needs.
6. As you have throughout the rest of your recovery, continue to pay attention to nutrition and hydration.
Feed your body the best, most anti-inflammatory foods you can, including plenty of leafy vegetables and sufficient water.
Prolonged illness or injury can have a devastating affect on the body. Fortunately, the body’s default setting is health and wellbeing. The body will recover in time, given the right conditions. Nurture yourself back to health by including nutrition, the management of stress and physical activity after injury or illness.