After an injury the prospect of exercise can be quite intimidating. However, you have to ask your self the question: “which is more scary, getting back into exercise or not being able to exercise?”
Below is a simple physio routine, an easy to follow treadmill workout for those in rehabilitation after a foot, ankle, leg, knee, hip or back injury.
The injury recovery workout is suitable for those who have been recommended by their Doctor, GP or Physio to commence exercise (to build their strength back up) and approve a light treadmill workout. (After injury you should always consult a doctor before undertaking any physical activity).
Before you do anything set yourself some upbeat, motivational music. Not superfast songs that are going to make your feel the need to overexert yourself, but motivational songs. I say this as some can be frustrated in the initial workouts, which is normal as you are used to being able to achieve more in your physical activity. The music will spur you on when you need to dig deep.
Start smooth and softly, there is plenty of time for building up. The last thing you want to do is cause additional damage that will set you back even further or worse.
Start at 0.3km. This is yes slow, but a smooth start speed that will allow you to find your feet. Just pace on 0.3 km for 1 minute and assess how you feel. Should you feel any serious pain at this stage, then you must speak to your Doctor again before continuing.
Move up to 1 km for 1 minute. If your injury permits try and lengthen your stride, reaching your leg further out in front than normal. This will allow you to use muscles that have not been worked in a while i.e your hamstrings.
Now we need to start building that strength, but safely. Take your speed up to 2.5km and raise the incline to 2% or (level 2). Do this for 2 minutes. By walking slow an incline challenges the heart at a slower walking pace, this means less impact on knees and hips.
Raise the incline to 3% and the speed to 3km for 1 minute. This is as high and as fast as we are going to go, so really access how it feels. Don’t go higher on this occasion, even if it feels quite easy. The reason being it is very common after injury to not feel the effects immediately of exercise, rather you will feel it later on or the following day. Think when you have done lots of sit-ups or squats and then really felt it the next day. This is because at the time of exercise adrenaline will have kicked in, this can mask the feeling of strain or pain. Again we want to build your strength, not set you back,
Now drop back down to 2.5 km at 2% incline again for 2 minutes. Increasing and decreasing your speed is like interval training on a smaller scale. Interval training is really good for building muscles and stamina, both are key to any injury whether it be to a bone, muscle or ligament.
If it felt relatively comfortable before, step back up to 3% incline and 3km again for 1 minute. Again if your injury permits reach your legs out slightly more forward than usual.
(once this exercise routine has been performed several times and you want to increase your activity, introduce 2 light weight dumbbells at this stage. Just perform some simple bicep curls, this allows you to take your focus away from your injury for a while and on to your arms).
Now decrease back to 2.5km at 2% incline for 2 minutes.
Finally cool down, reverting back to your 1km with no incline for 1 minute. It may feel slow, but any work out no matter what speed your reaching needs a warm up and a cool down.
When practicing this injury workout for the first time DON’T repeat it again that day. As mentioned before, we need to assess how you feel later in the day and the following morning. If you get a light ache then that is not an issue, anything above this and you need to speak to your Doctor/Physio or GP.
If you feel good the next day, with little to no ache then repeat again. The secret to rehabilitation is not to keep increasing the speed, the incline or pile on the weights. Rather it is about little and often to build your stamina. Also keeping the bones, muscles or ligaments moving, lubricates them and helps to keep you more supple. So adopt the little and often approach and perform 2 or 3 times per day.