How To Return To Training After an Injury

If you’ve been injured, you know that you probably feel extra cautious when you’re getting back into exercising.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s a serious injury or just little aches here and there, the reaction is the same: extra caution.


In this newsletter I’ll give you some tips on what you can do to get back in action. Confident, pain-free and in better shape than before.

Do keep in mind that this isn’t a “how to rehabilitate” article. That is better left to more qualified professionals. This is an article that bridges the gap. You’re too healthy for “rehab”, but you still don’t feel well enough to get back into whatever exercise you were doing. It’s for that gray-zone.

Rebalance Your Muscles

             Whenever an injury occurs, certain muscles become too short and some muscles become too weak. Also, your stabilizer muscles (the little muscles that are responsible for smooth motion) contract slightly later than they should.

The first step is to lengthen short muscles and strengthen weak muscles. With my clients I like to use more than just exercise to do that.

You see, although exercise will strengthen and lengthen muscles, sometimes muscles are only part of the problem. Sometimes, the connection between the nervous system and the muscular system is faulty, in which case exercise doesn’t really help. I like to use Trigenics with my clients to get the nervous system to send the right messages to the muscles. If you don’t know what Trigenics is, you can check it out here:

and here:

Once both the nervous system and the muscles are tuned up, you can move on to the next step.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

             There’s a saying in the fitness industry: “if you want to learn something new about exercise, read a book from 100 years ago.” This is definitely true when it comes to progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), which was invented in the 1920s, but is an extremely powerful technique not just for rehabilitation, but also for elite performance.

What you do is you contract a muscle with varying levels of force, and then relax them. There are 3 keys to PMR:


  1. Use varying levels of force. Contract a muscle with 20%, then 40%, then 60%, then 80%, then 100% of its full force.
  2. It’s important to make sure that only the target muscle is contracting. You’ll naturally want to contract neighboring muscles, and even non-neighboring muscles. Try to isolate it to just the target muscle.
  3. Relaxation is just as important as tension. So after the 3-5 second contraction try to relax the muscle as quickly as possible. One difference between elite athletes and those who aren’t is that not only do the elite contract their muscles faster and harder, but they relax them faster than the non-elite.


Why does PMR work so well?


  1. It forces you to really feel the muscle, and learn to differentiate between varying levels of force.
  2. After an injury, muscles sometimes stay permanently partially contracted. This is a protective mechanism. Very often, it is this state of contraction that will cause pain. Yet when you complain of residual pain to your doctor or health professional, often they brush you off because X-rays aren’t showing anything, and the structure of your bones and joints is just fine. By re-gaining control of your muscles, you can regulate how much force you want them to exert.


Start Working Out


After you’ve done these 2 preliminary steps, you can start exercising. The first step is to regain your range of motion. This can be done through dynamic active stretching. This builds not only length in your muscles, but strength along with the length. And it works much faster than static passive stretching.

Then, you rebuild your endurance. Increase the number of repetitions that you do. This will nourish the connective tissue (like your tendons and ligaments) to support heavier weights later on.

Next, you increase your strength by increasing the resistance of each exercise.

And finally, you increase your power by moving faster. The difference between strength and power is that power is strength with a time limit (you’re trying to move as fast as possible). This is the last stage, and it’s important not to jump into this right away, because if you do, the risk of re-injury is quite high. There are certain standards that you must meet in each of the previous stages before you can work on power.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or call me, and I’ll be happy to answer them.

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Until next week,




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