Coming back from an injury can feel like you’re starting from scratch. Your body is stiff from disuse, and you may feel like all your hard-earned, pre-injury fitness was for nothing. We love answering questions from our Physique 57 Facebook users, and recently, someone reached out with this comment — “I had foot surgery and have not exercised for almost two months. So, I would love advice and info on ‘starting from scratch!'”

If you’re recovering from an injury and want to get back into the swing of it, you are not alone. You may be raring to go, but the most important thing is to listen to your body. Pain is your body telling you that you’ve gone too far, and overdoing it could only aggravate your injury and lead to further damage.

No matter what kind of injury you’ve suffered, whether it’s surgery, a sprained ankle or a pulled muscle, here are some tips on getting back into your fitness routine:

1. Stretch in the Meantime

While you’re recovering from your injury, you may require complete immobilization. Unfortunately, this can lead to static muscles that become stiff. Rather than allowing your muscles to completely break down, ask your doctor about including some stretching exercises into your recovery process. Stretching will allow your injured muscles to remain fit and can even ease you into becoming active again once your recovery is complete.

2. Take It Easy

When you’re ready to get moving again, a good rule of thumb is to do 20 percent less than you feel like you’re able to do. If you’ve been out of commission for a long time, you may even want to do less than that. You need to face the facts that even if you could run five miles before the injury, your body is not where it used to be. You need to take your time and ease into it.

3. Don’t Do Nothing

Doing nothing isn’t a great idea, either. You need to find a happy medium — active recovery. A gentle walk is one of the best ways to get started and ease back into activity. Swimming is another great option because it offers buoyancy and takes a lot of pressure off injured tissue and sore muscles. You can even do some strength training with very light weights. Whatever you do, listen to your body and take lots of breaks. Pain means stop immediately. Over time, you’ll see growth and be able to do the activities you once loved.

4. Ice and Heat

Depending on what your doctor recommends, ice and heat will be your two best friends. Icing helps prevent muscle soreness after working out and can also reduce swelling and ease pain. Heat can be more beneficial for older injuries, depending on what they are. Just keep your doctor in the loop and ask their advice.

5. Talk to Your Trainer

Working with a trainer after an injury can be a great way to get back into the swing of things, but be honest about the extent of your injury. They will help you take your time and not overexert yourself. A trainer can also help you keep motivated as you slowly but surely work your way back to your previous level of activity.

Find out More About Physique 57

Once you’re ready to dive in fully, the expert instructors at Physique 57 offer classes that will both excite and push you. However, they understand the limits an injury can place on your body, so this instruction will be provided with your ultimate safety in mind. Plan a visit to one of our studios today.