It is difficult to build up your confidence after an injury. Fear of re-injury is a very real and valid concern. There are many simple and functional exercises that you can do prior to jumping back into your regular exercise routine that are both practical and safe. Three very simple low impact exercise options include walking, squatting and reaching.
- Walking is an exercise that is often overlooked, but it helps build your endurance and functional strength back up. Adding different “tweaks” to your walk is a great way to increase demands on various parts of your body while walking. These “tweaks” can include walking with your feet wider or narrower than normal, toes turned in or out, or simply trying to take a longer stride.
- Squatting is something many people are afraid of, but it makes its way into our lives when we lift young kids, pick up groceries, do yard work, etc. If you are not comfortable squatting, try holding onto your sink at home to take some of the strain off of your knees and core. As this becomes easier, you can progress to free squatting. You can change the demands on different body parts by changing your foot position during squats. Foot positions can include having one foot slightly in front of the other, having your stance be wider or narrower than shoulder width, or have your toes slightly pointed in or out.
- Core strengthening is a buzzword in our society. Core strengthening is very important, but functional core strengthening looks a little bit different than most people think. The core gets “activated” by lengthening the core muscles. A great way to get the spine moving in a functional way while loading the core is reaching. And similar to the squatting and gait tweaks, reaching at various angles will activate different parts of your core. Reaches can include reaching up or down, side to side, or rotating. These reaches can also be completed in a stride stance where one foot is in front of the other.
These are 3 very simple but very effective ways to start exercising after an injury. For best results, always listen to your body. Pain is a protective mechanism that should not be ignored. If any of the movements or positions are painful, avoid those until your body has further healed.
As these get easier and you feel more comfortable, you can add load or increase the amount of time/repetitions to any of these exercises.
Once you feel confident with all/most of these exercises, you may consider joining an exercise class with a trained fitness professional. Some classes to start with could be gentle yoga, Pilates, aquatic exercise classes, beginner spin classes, or low impact fitness classes.
Find what exercises and activities you enjoy doing. The options are endless! The worst thing you can do for yourself after an injury is nothing. Don’t let yourself stop moving. Find things that feel good and do them so that you can get back to moving with confidence.