How to Safely Return to Exercise After an Injury

By: Marley Carviou, Rierson Fitness Personal Trainer

It’s more than just a physical setback, so here is what you can do to come out even stronger when healed!

Whether you are a competitive athlete or an every day gym-goer just trying to get stronger, injuries may affect your training at some point or another. Although we all wish we could do everything perfectly to avoid them, sometimes it is simply out of our control. What we can do is control what we can to be preventative and to return to our favorite activities as safely as possible. Rehabilitation of injuries is unique person to person, but below you can find some general guidelines and helpful tips to get you back to performing at 100%!

Seek out the right help

There are many different professionals in the health and fitness industry that can assist you in injury rehab. Although many claim to know it all, the truth is each professional plays a very different role depending on their title. Depending on the severity of your injury, your doctor may suggest you seek out a Physical Therapist or Chiropractor to do manual therapy techniques and help speed up the healing process. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for good, local recommendations and do some homework on your own to make sure you find someone you trust.

So what happens when you “graduate” from physical therapy or your doctor tells you everything looks back to normal? What if you don’t feel confident to return to your normal activities like biking, running, or lifting? Finding a Personal Trainer that knows how to help you return to activities safely is not only important for healing but also for preventing further damage and other injuries. It is our job as trainers to teach you how to safely perform exercises and to select exercises that are appropriate for your level of strength. At Rierson Fitness we pride ourselves in keeping all of our clients injury free, and help those who may have an injury adjust their exercise routine so they can still make progress towards their goals despite the small bump in the road.

Let pain be your guide

When exercising on your own, it is important to be cautious with the muscle or area you have injured and not push it past what it can tolerate as it is healing. So how in the world are you supposed to do that?! The simple answer is to let pain be your guide. If you feel a sharp or shooting pain with a movement or exercise, then it’s probably best to try a different variation or pick a new exercise. Listen to your body and note any discomfort or pain in a journal or in your phone so you can share that information with your doctor, PT, or trainer. Performing pain free exercises is the easiest and safest way to ensure you don’t make your recovery longer than it should be! Keep good communication with the healthcare professionals you are working with and you will have a speedy recovery.

Don’t cut calories! 

When we are injured, we tend to be less active depending on the severity of the injury. If you are in a lot of pain and struggling with motivation, you probably won’t make it to the gym as often as you normally do and that is more than ok! This is a time your body needs to heal and recover. With less activity, many people’s first instinct is to cut calories back and eat less since they aren’t burning as many calories as normal. Keeping calories up and eating nutrient dense foods is one of the most beneficial things you can do as you recover. Food is our fuel, and without it our body doesn’t function properly. Protein intake is important, and you should shoot for consuming about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This is a good rule of thumb for both everyday life and for injury recovery. 

Recovering from an injury can be difficult not only physically but mentally as well. It is a great opportunity to control what you can, and still focus on taking care of your body. Make sure you listen to your doctor or other healthcare professionals to be sure you heal 100% before jumping back into the activities you love! Your doctor, PT, trainer or chiro should always have your best interest at heart, and they will know exactly when to challenge you and when to give you rest. If you are looking for more guidance returning from an injury, you can send us an email at or give us a call at 319-290-6319. We want you to succeed in rehab and prevent further injury from happening so you can enjoy daily activities pain free!

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at and Instagram @riersonfitnesss for more fitness tips and tricks.

On July 17, 2023 this entry was posted in Uncategorized by Jeff Rierson.