Returning to training after an injury

Regardless of how strong you are, your fitness levels or the competency of your personal trainer, if you work out on a regular basis, chances are that you have suffered an injury at some point.

Stretches and a thorough warm-up can minimise the risk of a physical ailment, but they don’t expel the risk altogether. And knowing what to do if you an injury comes your way can have a profound affect on your recovery time.

The first thing to remember is that if you feel pain, stop. The motto of ‘no pain, no gain’ might be widely used but if exercise is causing stress to a particular area of your body, carrying on risks further injury.

Depending on the nature of injury, it may be necessary to get medical assistance. Your body will likely patch itself up naturally on it’s own for many strains and tears. However, getting professional advice for any pain that lingers for a week or longer is generally advised.

While on the recovery trail it’s important to remember that your body will need your assistance to return to fully working order again. Although you may not be able or advised to exercise that particular area of your body, it doesn’t mean you should retire to the sofa until things are patched up.

A continuation of a healthy diet and an active (as possible) lifestyle is likely to speed up your bodies own reparation mechanics. Besides, having one area out of action (your arm for example), means you could shift focus to building up strength and heightening performance in your legs or general cardio output.

The main thing to consider is to monitor your own body, listen to professional advice and ensure that you don’t try to do too much too soon.

But how can prepare yourself for a return to training? For all but the most serious injuries, the RICE method of recovery can generally be applied.


Allowing your body to begin the healing process is crucial. Simply continuing through the pain, or getting ahead of yourself is only likely to cause further issues.

After a couple of days of avoiding strain on a particular area, you may be able to start assessing your own recovery. How much movement can you get out of the affected limb or area without pain? Is the body part functioning fully without causing you discomfort? Once you have full used of that limb, you can normally begin to work on strengthening it up again.


For muscle tears and strains, inflammation is likely. Before you can get back to lifting weights or putting that part of the body through a workout, the swelling needs to go down. Applying ice to the affected area immediately after injury will go some way to reducing pain and minimise swelling.

Remember not to apply ice to your body for long periods of time as this could have an adverse affect. Periods of 20 or 30 minutes at a time are recommended.


Alongside the application of ice, compression to an injured body part will also aid recovery. An elasticated bandage or wrap will go some way to preventing excess swelling, but watch for the tightness. Too tight and you risk causing further swelling to the area below the initial pain zone. If you feel tingling, numbness or increased pain, chances are your wrap is on too tight.


A fourth way to limit the chances of unpleasant swelling is by elevating the problem area. By lifting the area above the level of your heart (if possible) you can reduce the amount of fluid that will gather in the problem zone, and increase the concentration of blood that can circulate.

Of course, the RICE method alone may not be enough to facilitate a full recovery. If you have any doubts about whether your injury has subsided, seek professional medical advice before returning to training.

For personal trainers, the risks of injury during a sessions is there both for yourself and your client. If the client were to blame you for the injury caused – if you ushered them back into training too soon, for example – a liability claim could ensue.

Protectivity’s Personal Trainer Insurance covers both this scenario and others should you be sued for injury to a third party. If you are a fitness professional, get a quick quote today to see how little annual protection could cost.