Ask Stew: Recovery and Building Back a Fitness Program

Photo courtesy of Stew Smith

When recovering from injuries, it is imperative to get clearance from your doctor before embarking on a fitness recovery program. Working out before you are completely healed can delay your recovery or worse yet, cause further injury.

Hi Stew, I’m finally cleared by the doctor from my whiplash injury and able to work out again. I am starting from scratch as I have been restricted with no activity for the last two months. Thank you and I look forward to getting back on the fitness wagon again – it has been too long.

Have a nice day, Ryan

Recover / Rebuild With Doctor’s Approval

Ryan – I am sure with the doctor’s clearance, you have spent the last few months not stimulating the brain, or doing anything to stress your mind or body. Sleeping is the best cure and letting the brain naturally (takes time and patience) heal itself in a calm atmosphere is the way to go. Now, once given the full OK to begin normal activities, the last thing you want to do is start off where you left off.

In fact, having some really easy days of training focusing on mobility, full range of motion for lower weight and lower repetitions along with very light cardio is the way to go for at least a month.  Treating yourself like a beginner is a good idea.

What to Avoid and Practice at First

Stay away from exercises where you have fast head movements for a little while like fast pushups, burpees, and even sit-ups, crunches - maybe replace all core exercises with plank poses until you are fully recovered. Do slower repetitions of any movement that makes the head move (pullups, dips, pushups, and even squats).  A trick you can do is similar to avoid sea sickness when on a ship – looking at the horizon. Have a fixed point of vision instead of scanning the sky, floor, or the ceiling when moving your head and torso quickly. This can lead to a motion sick feeling in anyone and especially someone recovering from a head / neck injury.

It is recommended to focus first building on a calisthenics / mobility base, with dumbbell work, then push into heavier weight in a month or two after you have rebuilt the foundation of fitness.

Then after 4-6 weeks, start to test yourself with more movements that may have previously made you feel “sea sick” or challenge your balance.

For related information from the CDC and WedMD:

Recovery from Head Injury, Concussions, or TBI

Teens and Concussions

Other Articles and Information from Fitness:

Recovering After Injury

Training After Injury or Illness

Rebuild the Foundation of Fitness Program





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