By Jonathan Souder
Fitness Director, Manor House

You love to exercise and stay fit. You’ve maintained a good fitness level for years and then you had an injury. Injuries can be frustrating and challenging to overcome. After you go through the steps of intervention with the doctor and the physical therapist, it’s important to continue on with your exercise after rehab and work to prevent future injuries. We are all prone to an injury once and a while. It takes time and consistency to work through an injury. And most important, it takes discipline and patience. Discipline I have -- patience on the other hand was my challenge when I returned to my fitness routine after an injury.

Here’s a few tips from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) on how to return to your fitness routine:

Maintain a good form. Keep a good posture and keep your spine long when exercising. 

Relax your shoulders. Technology has given us the computer. The computer has helped us in many ways. It has also hurt our posture because we tend to keep our shoulders tight. Let your shoulders sit naturally while working on the computer. Training your posture while working will positively carry over to good posture when exercising.

Move from your hips. When you’re exercising your full body or just doing lower body exercises, start the movement from your hips to avoid lower back involvement.

Choose less challenging exercises, lower resistance levels and less range of motion. It will take time to progress back up to the higher fitness level you had before the injury. You may realize that your pre-injury workout was too intense and risky. If so, try a lower impact, less stressful exercise. 

Pain is your body telling you that something is wrong. Don’t take pain killers before your workout. You need to be able to listen to your body. If the injured area is hurting while you’re working out, you may be doing more harm than good. Stay in a pain-free range by limiting your range of motion.

Be sure to actively recover after your workout. Not all of us can take advantage of a weekly massage but we can use a foam roller to give our muscles a massage around the injury after the workout is finished. Stay hydrated and eat nutritious foods. Take the time to stretch! In addition to the foam roller, stretch the muscles surrounding your injury. Focus on deep, long stretches and hold the stretch for at least 60 seconds.

Don’t let an injury discourage you. Work to improve your fitness level every day, even after an injury.