A long break from fitness never goes unnoticed by your body. Especially if you used to be a regular on the sports ground. So, I suggest you make peace with the fact that you’ll need quite some time to get your mojo back.
Disclaimer: below you’ll find general recommendations that may come useful for making a fitness comeback. But of course, the nature of every injury and illness is different and needs to be addressed accordingly, as well as it requires an individual advice from a medical professional.
When the last symptoms of your illness or injury subside, pay a visit to your physical therapist. Once you get the go-ahead to start training again, make sure you know these things:
Make your comeback only when fully recovered
Sometimes it’s possible to train around the injury, i.e. do the workouts focused on other areas of the body that don’t require any pressure to the injured area. However, it’s not so black-and-white either. All body parts are interconnected this way or the other. Let’s say you injured your resurrection bone and decided to train your upper body instead. But whatever movement you make just with your arms and shoulders, it echoes straight to your spine, and the resurrection bone is at the base of the spine. There you have it. So, if, say, you’ve been recovering from a long-term injury and something health-related is still bothering you, it will be wise not to put off your visit to a doctor.
Always start with a warmup
This is true for everyone, every goal and every workout type, be it cardio or strength training. However, for someone making a return after an injury, it’s twice as important because of a much higher risk of an injury. In this case, warmups work as an extra protection against strains.
Take it easy
Perhaps, it’s the most important thing. Training program after a long break often resembles a beginner program. When you start over again, your body may play make-believe that you are capable of so much more. Don’t fall for that trick. During the time off your muscles and joints have lost their elasticity and your body’s range of motion became more limited. Start with the intensity that is much lower than you think you’re physically capable of.
You can level up your training when your muscles begin to feel pleasantly sore, the exercises get easier and basic movements are no longer challenging.
Start out slow
Working out twice a week is enough in the beginning. Learn to overcome the temptation to go at the same pace or work out with the same intensity you used to before your time off, even if it feels right for a brisk moment. Otherwise you can badly injure your body and be forced to take an even longer break.
If you were a runner, try walking or jogging at first. If you were good at flexing, bending and stretching, start again slowly without doing the splits right away. Dial back on the strength training. By overtraining the weakened muscles the risk of an injury increases.
It also might be a good idea to take up swimming, cycling or just throwing a Frisbee at first. The point is to train your arms and legs, as well as increase your heart and lung’s endurance.
Be prepared that you won’t get back to your previous fitness level in the blink of an eye.
The amount of time it takes to get back in shape fully depends on the amount of the time you skipped. If you missed only a week because of high fever, it should take you next to nothing to go back to where you left off. Slow down during the first two trainings and that’s about it.
But how long is too long? Let’s say you dropped out of your training for a year or so. You’ll need to go at half-strength compared to what you used to do. Try not to increase your pace and intensity of training during a couple of weeks.
Plan it out
Plan for your comeback from injury and work out a systematic return to the previous fitness level. The training needs to be properly planned out depending on the nature of your injury or illness and duration of your break. And no one will do it better than a medical professional. Your doctor was the one who observed the course of your recovery and knows better than anyone how to get you back in the game and what advice to give you.
The good news is that though you are far from where you were before, you are still in a better shape compared to those who don’t work out at all. Yes, it will take you a good chunk of time to work your way back, but your previous experience still gives you a head start.