You used to be a regular at the gym. Then you hurt your ankle and had to stay away. It’s been a few months and you’re now fully recovered and ready to get back in the game again. But you’ve lost some muscle and motivation in the process. Now what? Should you just give up all hope of having that perfectly toned and honed body?

Start slow When your muscles are called to action, your brain and the nerves needed to carry out that task must communicate. These channels of communication weaken if they aren’t being used, like in the case of an injury. The good news is that these communication signals can be strengthened. But this process takes time, so be patient. Start with a simple activity like walking. Then, gradually increase your activity level every week. Slow progress is still progress.

Listen to your body When it comes to injury, pain is definitely not gain. A little pain isn’t a bad thing, and can help you make gains. But, if the pain is unbearable or lasts for an hour or more after completing an activity, you probably did too much or pushed too hard. Never push through pain – listen to what your body is trying to tell you. It speaks volumes about what it needs. If you have pain that persists or won’t go away, see your doctor immediately.

Exercises to avoid

Stay clear of these exercises if you have one of these common injuries.

  • Back injury: avoid running and lifting heavy weights. Try walking, swimming or yoga to help strengthen your abdominal muscles.
  • Shoulder injury: avoid overhead presses and lifts with free weights. Try front shoulder raises instead. Home activities like gardening could also cause a flare-up of pain. Avoid these activities as well as sports that involve repetitive shoulder movements like tennis, golf and cricket.
  • Ankle injury: avoid running, jogging and jumping. Try non-weight bearing exercises like stationary biking and swimming. Regain range of motion in your ankle by drawing the letters of the alphabet with your toes.
  • Knee injury: avoid running, skipping and other activities that involve jumping or changing direction. Try swimming, water aerobics or Pilates. Also, include hip, thigh and knee strengthening exercises like leg raises into your exercise regime.
  • Neck injury: avoid anything that puts pressure on your neck, e.g. running, headstands or climbing. Try walking, cycling and yoga positions that don’t involve head or neck movements.
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Tip: Always check with Hello Doctor before doing any exercise. Ask about how much and what type of activity you can do, and how intensely you should do it. The type of exercise you do will affect your return to physical activity and may impact your injury.