GREENWICH, Conn. -- For fitness enthusiasts, an injury can be a frustrating setback from the normal routine. However, there are ways to make sure you're getting in shape and staying pain-free.
“It’s most important for you to start rehabbing very slowly, paying close attention to how your body and pain levels respond to the increased physical exertion," said Alicia Hirscht, physical therapy manager at Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists in Greenwich and Stamford. "This will be your indicator of whether you need to scale back for a while, keep at your current exercise level, or increase your activity.”
At the same time, make sure you have a conditioning program of strengthening exercises and stretches that focus on whole-body health. For example, if you have chronic knee issues, avoid high impact and weight-bearing activities like running and contact sports. Biking, walking, or swimming is a safer option.
For those with shoulder issues, try to minimize overhead activities like racquet sports and freestyle swimming. Opt instead for a strengthening program that emphasizes rotator cuff and scapular muscles, combined with a stretching program to open the chest and shoulder muscles.
Suffering from back pain? there’s a good chance your extensor muscles -- back, hips and hamstrings -- are weak. Swimming is an excellent activity for strengthening your back while gaining cardiovascular fitness. Exercises that focus on the extensor muscles, like planks, are extremely beneficial for you back, too.
It's important to remember that healing does take time. “It helps to remember how far you’ve come rather than how much farther you have to go,” said Hirscht. “Taking a smart and steady approach that allows for one day or rest between outings, a nutritious diet, proper sleep and stress management will all help you get better faster and back to doing the things you most enjoy.”