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5 Tips for Recovering From an Exercise-Related Injury

Unfortunately, injuries don't heal overnight. Recover the right way, and avoid them by exercising the right way.

Professional athletes aren't the only ones that can be derailed by an injury. Everyone is at risk when you step into the gym, or out for a run. You feel a sudden pain, or maybe it's been building up slowly until you can't ignore it. Whatever the injury, you can recover and get back to your workouts with simple, and smart, tips.

See Your Doctor

Depending on the injury, most people start with their general practitioner. The doctor may end up referring you to a specialist, such as an orthopedic, but start here. You may be tempted to talk to a trainer at the gym, your friend that exercises a lot or hit the old Internet. However, none of these people are experts on the human body, nor can they diagnose an injury or treat it. Your doctor is an expert or will refer you to the right one.

Once you have a clear diagnosis, you will understand how long it may take to heal. Physical therapy may be involved, or even surgery. Maybe you just need some anti-inflammatory medication and rest. Your doctor will tell you.

Follow the Instructions

So many people go to the experts, then do whatever they want. That's a way to heal improperly and possibly make it worse. If running is aggravating tendinitis in your knee, stop running. If your doctor or therapist gives you daily exercises, do them. It's not rocket science — follow instructions.

Work Around It

Often times you can still exercise even if you're injured. If you have a knee or foot injury, maybe you can work your upper body or hop in the pool for cardio. If your shoulder is injured, maybe you can modify and work your lower body. Find out what movements or activities to avoid, and then find alternatives. If your injury is serious, such as back or spine-related, you may have to rest completely. Before you throw in the towel, though, ask. This may be a great time to try something new that allows your injury to heal, while you stay fit.

Don't Rush It

Just because the pain is gone doesn't mean you're finished healing. It also doesn't mean you can head right back to what you were doing before. You are going to have to ease back into your former workouts, once you get the all clear. For example, if you were running for 30 minutes three times a week before your injury, start with five to 10 minutes at a time and see how that feels. Increase your pace and distance a little each week so you don't re-injure yourself. The same goes for resistance exercise. If you did 20-pound dumbbell presses before your shoulder injury, start with five to eight pounds when you get back to them. Your body will adapt and remember, but it will also protect itself so go slow.

Also, double check with your doctor or therapist to see if there are exercises or activities that you just shouldn't do anymore. Don't assume that because you had surgery or feel great that it's full steam ahead. You may have to make adjustments to stay healthy.

Be Smart

Exercise the right way. Warm your body up properly before a workout, and cool down when you're done. Stretch your muscles two to three times per week to maintain mobility. Increase resistance, or volume of training slowly to avoid over-training and injury. And it is essential to always use proper form during weight training and cardiovascular activities.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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