4 Things to do when Returning to Fitness After Physical Therapy

Mark, a longtime friend, had been dealing with lower back pain for quite some time. It was mostly manageable and didn’t interfere tremendously with his 3-days-per-week fitness routine until one morning, while tying his shoe, he felt blinding pain in his lower back that didn’t go away.

After a visit with his doctor, Mark went to physical therapy three times per week. After four weeks he was feeling significantly better and was discharged from physical therapy. Mark knew that he wanted to get back into his fitness routine but didn’t want to re-injure his lower back.
He called asking me for my opinion knowing that we see many people in similar circumstances. Here’s my advice to Mark. I thought I’d share it with you.

Remember that if it was good for you while in therapy, it’s probably good for you period.
Many times, people think that they “graduate” from certain exercises because they are no longer in physical therapy. This isn’t the case! Incorporate your rehab exercises into your fitness routine. Your physical therapist can help you pick which ones are most beneficial.

No, it shouldn’t hurt!
It’s normal to be a little sore when getting back into an exercise program; that doesn’t mean you should have pain in the treated area. Pain is the brain’s way of telling you something isn’t right. It’s pretty simple. If it hurts at all, don’t do it.

Be patient!
Slow and steady wins the day here. If you try to return to your previous training schedule too quickly, it could end up costing you more time out of the game… exactly what you don’t want.

Seek expert advice on how to progress.
There’s a lot of room between being “discharged” from physical therapy and being completely well enough to return to full training. Sometimes permanent changes need to be made in your training program to keep you from repeating the same injury.
Find an experienced coach who can help you with those decisions. He or she can help you find ways to challenge your fitness and keep you safe at the same time. Two great places to start that search are http://www.thrivefit.com/locations.html and http://www.certifiedfsc.com/locations for a coach near you.

There’s no doubt that maintaining a training program after an injury is important for your overall health. Keeping these tips in mind can keep you training longer and injury free.