Injury of the month: Returning to exercise following an injury
Keeping active and mobile is important after injury but needs to be done safely to prevent flare-ups and re-injury. The most common complaint that patients come to see our Spinal Specialist Physio Shari for is lower back pain. When lower back pain is acute, and the pain is constant and triggers twinges of pain with movement in all directions, then it is best to rest from the gym, however walking is still encouraged in most cases. When this acute pain settles down then slowly returning to training can be really important in your recovery. There are some tips below from Shari to help you return to exercise.
1. Exercise should never trigger pain in your back
If you feel a twinge/sharp pain whilst exercising then stop that particular exercise
There are 3 main reasons why the exercise might be causing pain:
a) it’s not the right exercise for your back at the stage of your recovery
b) your core and stabilising muscles are not engaged properly
c) your posture/alignment isn’t quite right particularly in your lower back
2. Usually low impact exercise is best to start with
for cardio swimming or cycling are usually good
remember to start gently and gradually build up the level you were at pre-injury
3. Slow, controlled movements during exercise is recommended
When you perform slower, controlled movements this encourages the activation of your deeper stabilising muscles which will protect your back
4. Avoid High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) initially
Form can be compromised during HIIT type exercises
Quick, sudden, unguarded movements can often cause twinges of pain and muscle spasm following injury when you are first recovering
5. Try to exercise in frequent shorter bursts rather than doing longer sessions
During longer exercise sessions your body is more likely to fatigue when first recovering from injury, which could compromise your form
6. Stay positive, it’s common to have set-backs
When exercising remember to allow your body some recovery time
Don’t let muscle pain (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, DOMs) and stiffness following exercise de-motivate you, just let your muscles recover, usually a couple of days will do, and then try again.
7. Stretching is important
Everyone should stretch, but it is even more important when you are recovering from an injury as your muscles and joints will be tight and “guarding” your injured area
Gently mobilise your joints and muscles before and after exercise as well as daily
Stretches should never be painful on your injured area
8. Warm-up and cool-down
This is even more important when recovering from injury as your body will be stiffer than usual
9. If in doubt, see a health professional for guidance
We can help to recommend and show you the best stretches and mobilisation exercises for your body and injury
We can also identify areas of weakness in your body, and prescribe you with the best strength exercises for you and your injury
If you’re injured we can help you get back on your feet and back to exercise - call us on 02030 12 12 22 to book an appointment.
Words by Shari Randall.