Despite the many benefits of sport and exercise, injuries can and do happen. For personal trainers, helping a client return to training after injury is part of the job. Our guide will help you ease your clients back to fitness.
Ready to return
Not being able to train because of an injury can be frustrating. Many people are so keen to return they start training when they haven’t fully recovered. Make sure your client has been given the go-ahead from a medical or sports injury professional.
Talk about the injury
Almost any part of the body can be injured. Whether your client has injured their muscles, bones, joints or connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) you’ll need to find out more about their injury, what caused it and the treatment they received. Once you’ve got this information, you’ll be able to create a specific plan to support their return to training.
Too much, too soon
Returning to full fitness after injury takes time and patience. A gentle approach is far better, and will be more successful than trying to make a speedy recovery. Design a schedule that includes a combination of mobility, flexibility, core strength, cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Explain to your client how a combination can improve fitness, sports performance and reduce the risk of further injury.
Range of movement
Make sure your client is aware that they shouldn’t return to training at their previous level of intensity. It’s important to start with gentle exercises and build up slowly. Focus on moving the injured body part to help improve your client’s range of movement. If this is easy and pain-free for your client, you can then introduce strengthening and stretching exercises.
Strengthening the muscles around the injury can help the client get back to full fitness, and can also reduce the risk of the injury re-occurring. After each exercise, check with your client to make sure the exercise hasn’t aggravated the injury.
Start your client’s return to fitness with a few basic exercises, focusing on technique and frequent repetitions. Use light resistance to start with and introduce one exercise at a time. Depending on how the client responds to the exercises, you can gradually increase the amount and intensity. If your client was injured in a specific sport, make sure you focus on the movements and muscles used in that sport.
When it comes to injuries, prevention really is better than a cure. Talk to your client about the best ways to avoid injury in future. Make sure they are aware of how to warm up properly before they start training, and how to stretch after exercise. Encourage your client to listen to their body. If they’re struggling with a particular exercise, make sure they don’t push too hard before they are ready.
If your client was injured in a specific sport, introduce drills, exercises and stretches relevant to that sport. As well as improving technique, they also reduce the risk of injury.
By using these simple steps, you should be able to get your client’s confidence and fitness levels back to normal in no time, and having them enjoying fitness and sports like they did before their injury.