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Can I workout with an injury? Expert advice on getting back to the gym

In December, I needed to get a little heart operation. All good. But what’s not good is that I haven’t been able to work out, which is a big part of my life. I’m just a nicer person when I let off some steam in a spin or yoga class.

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how to workout with an injury

In December, I needed to get a little heart operation. All good. But what’s not good is that I haven’t been able to work out, which is a big part of my life. I’m just a nicer person when I let off some steam in a spin or yoga class.

To do the procedure, they had to enter my groin area. So, while there was no pain in my heart, my groin area and leg were very sore after the operation and still is. The doctor told me I’d be fine in a week, or so, to work out. I hate the “or so.” It’s been four weeks and it still hurts to even press the gas pedal in my car.

I know a ton of people who make it their new year’s resolution to work out more. But be careful! I once went on a hot yoga rampage for two weeks. I was proud of myself…until I injured myself. I had hurt my shoulder so badly; I couldn’t work out for three months. That’s what happens when you really get into something that you should really ease into (like a bath) as opposed to a going-in-with-full-force, like running into a volcano.

If you’ve injured yourself, it’s important to not make it worse. And don’t injuries always happen at the worst times? I have a book launch party (mine!) to attend in a mere couple weeks. I would like to look good for this. But my leg still slightly hurts, and I’m scared I’m never going to get back to working out.

I talked to Larry Track, founder of Track Fitness (and one of my occasional trainers) for tips on getting back to the gym if you have injured yourself (or haven’t worked out in years and want to get back into it), or have had an operation on a body part. It appears I called him at the right time, because he was “just coming back” from an injury himself. (It happens to gym owners and fitness trainers too.)

1. First, if you’ve been injured, you have to get medical clearance or advice on when you should start working out. You definitely want to listen to people who know more than you do about how the muscles work. You don’t want to injure yourself further. “It’s really important to be diagnosed quickly and correctly,” says Larry.

2. Once you get to the gym, “You’ve got to listen to your body,” says Larry. “Take in what motions, or stretches you can do during the warm up and then slowly work to build your body back.”

3. Definitely have a plan, says Track. “Even if you think you can run faster than you can, don’t go off this plan. You can’t just jump back on the treadmill to a high speed. You need to gradually build the muscle back. And you need to strengthen the muscles around the injured one.”

3. By making a plan, you’ll be building a routine, he says. “You can say to yourself, for two weeks I’m going to keep it moderate. Or for week one, I’m only going to do five minutes on the elliptical, and then week two, I’ll do eight minutes.’” That’s how you can build your routine and get your endurance back.

4. Be patient, he says. “When you have an injury, it feels like you will never get better. You have to be patient, or you are going to hurt yourself again.”

5. Talk to your trainers or gym instructors. Don’t be embarrassed. “You have to tell your teachers that you’re coming back from an injury, so you can’t do an incline, or whatever it may be.” They’ll think that you’re not having a good time, so tell them before class that you need to take it easy because you are coming back from an injury. “Don’t be a wimp. Tell everyone. You don’t want others to wonder why you are going so slowly, or why you are walking funny. All you have to say is ‘I’m struggling with an injury.” In fact, the trainers may have some tips for you.

I think I’m ready to head back with Larry’s advice. I’ll tell everyone the truth, listen to my body, and try to be patient with not being able to do certain things for a while. My heart is fine. Now my body just has to follow. Has having an injury ruined your workout routine? Were you as impatient as I am? Share your experience…