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Call It A Comeback

5 tips on getting back in the game after a sports injury…
When you’re an athlete, your focus on gains and your competitive streak is such a part of your identity that coming back after a sports injury can be tough. The injury itself and the recovery period can be painful both physically and mentally. Being injury-free and finally being able to return to your sport would seem like a time to rejoice, but it can also be demoralizing when you come to realize how much of a setback your fitness level has taken. Being strategic and positive at this critical time will help you get back to (and eventually surpass) where you used to be.
Be patient and take your time
“Doing too much too soon is a common problem when returning from injury,” says Hubert Leung, a registered physiotherapist. Don’t push through pain (in fact, he says, you should be experiencing zero pain when doing exercises at this point of your recovery program). “Increase your workload gradually and follow the exercises as directed by your physiotherapist,” he says.
Rebuild your foundation
“I would look to taper everything back; however, we are meant to move, regardless of our capabilities or limitations,” recommends Ryan Caico, founder of Toronto fitness studio Strive Life Athletics. “Direct your focus on mobility, flexibility and stability to create a solid baseline and foundation. When you come back from injury with a stronger foundation, the risk of reinjury is much less.”
Fuel your body for making a comeback
Jackson Johnson, a fitness trainer from Australia, recommends looking to your food sources first to get more healthy fats and proteins in your diet. “Carnitine from healthy grass-fed red meat is crucial for ligament and bone strength. And if you’re not able to refuel right after your workout with food, then a protein shake or bar will help,” he says. Johnson, who will be the lead trainer this November at the Active Escapes Barbados fitness retreat, also suggests adding a natural pain relief supplement to your routine if you are suffering from any minor pain or inflammation (his personal favourite is Genuine Health Fast Joint Care+ with fermented turmeric).
Continue with your rehab exercises
Depending on your sport or activity, you may want to work on sport-specific rehab exercises since different sports involve different forces and movements of different joints, says Leung, who practises at Good Physiotherapy in Toronto. And don’t ditch those rehab exercises the moment you’re given the “all clear.” Leung says it’s generally good to continue rehab exercises for a few weeks after you’ve fully recovered. “Often, some exercises are to treat underlying causes that may still need attention to prevent the injury from reoccurring.”
Focus on preventing future injuries
Once you’ve been able to get back into the shape you once were, this is no time to return to your previous habits and regimen (you did get injured, after all). Consider prevention now. “I would recommend slowly but surely nudging the body along but always coming back to mind and body to see how you are feeling,” says Caico. He says that no matter what your chosen workout is, try not to go too hard and focus on staying ahead of any future breakdown.

KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.

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