Getting Back on Your Feet: Training After an Injury or Illness


Endurance training is effective if you are looking to run a marathon, climb a mountain or swim a long distance. It can also be incredibly useful as a tool to get back on your feet after an injury or illness and back into your normal exercise routine, especially if you have been out of the game for an extended period of time. There are significant benefits such as helping to speed up the healing process, continued improvements in range of motion, flexibility, functional strength and reduction of inflammation. It can also help with improvements in cardiovascular performance, as well as reduction of chronic disease risk factors. Below are some key factors in starting or resuming endurance training after an injury or illness.


Assessing the Dangers

Before you jump back into training regularly there are some definite dangers that you should be aware of ahead of time. Always speak to your physician to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk for additional health problems.

If you have recently had surgery, you may want to speak with your doctor in order to assess whether you are at a stage of recovery where physical activity won’t have an adverse effect on damaged tissue or cause possible infection. Make sure to be specific. If your doctor says they want you to rest for a set period of time, then you should ask what type of physical activity is okay for the duration.

Most importantly, after asking the hard questions you must listen carefully to your physician.

Pace Yourself

You are coming back from an injury or illness. Whether you have been out of the game for a couple weeks or a couple months, you should make sure that you are training at a comfortable pace so that you don’t cause additional damage to your body. Pace is key since the point of endurance training is to build up muscle, tendon and ligament strength in order to sustain extended periods of activity.

Whether you are resuming or just starting endurance training for the first time then you are going to want to focus on taking your time building up to more strenuous levels through a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. You may feel like you are not exhausting your full potential here at times, but that is okay.

The muscles, tendons and/or ligaments are going to need time to get back into the full swing of your regular exercise. Alternatively, if you are recovering from an illness, like a stroke, you might shift focus to improving cardiovascular function without the excess stress that may aggravate any existing physical weaknesses.

Listen to Your Body

Listen to Your Body

Your body is going to communicate with you. Pain is a good indication that your body is telling you something is wrong. Avoiding painkillers pre-workout will allow your body to let you know what is going on without cutting off or dulling one of its lines of communication.

If you do experience pain while exercising you could try limiting your range of motion, reducing the weight that you are using, or switch activity altogether. If you cannot find a pain free exercise then it may be time to seek out a physical therapist with endurance training knowledge or personal trainer with post-injury experience.

Modifying Your Exercises

Depending on the type of injury or illness that you have experienced you are going to want to modify your exercise. It is vital to tailor your physical activity to assist with your recovery. Using different types of exercise is going to be the key, and if you are not familiar with exercise modification, seek out a professional with the appropriate experience.

Remember that during your modified exercise low-intensity resistance training can be some of the most beneficial activities to help restore balance, redevelop neuromuscular function and control, develop reflex control, and rebuild endurance and strength of damaged tissues. Examples of low resistance exercises could include walking, elliptical, cycling, rowing, kayaking, tai chi, swimming and/or water aerobics. As an example, If you were running previously, you might consider non-impact exercise such as a stationary bike so you can start working your quads and hamstrings again.

Orthotics are useful tools when it comes to adding support to the musculoskeletal system, especially after an injury or illness. They are designed to help control weakened and even deformed sections of the body for proper alignment, range of motion support, weight bearing and shock absorption. Depending on the injury or illness that you are recovering from there is a wide range of options including braces, insoles, or corrective shoes.

These options will help immobilize, limit and/or guide body segments in an effort to aid with rehabilitation while improving movement capabilities and possibly even reducing pain. For instance, an injury such as an ankle sprain could benefit greatly from a brace. The best ankle braces for running can stabilize and support the joint allowing for functional use of the limb while properly strengthening the ligaments until it has healed properly.

Final Thoughts

Endurance training has the ability to shorten recovery time post injury or illness compared to inactivity and help reduce chronic disease risk factors, improve cardiovascular performance, range of motion, flexibility, functional strength, and reduce inflammation. In order to reap the benefits of endurance training, you should consult with a physician for clear answers about the amount and type of physical activity that they are comfortable with during the recovery period.

You should also keep in mind that you should take it slow, listening to your body for signs that you should rest or completely stop in order to avoid aggravating a previous injury or illness. Most importantly you should be modifying your exercise to ensure that your body is getting the appropriate amount of physical activity without over-stressing the affected area.

By: Joe Fleming

Joe Fleming is the President at Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…the goal is help others “rebel against age”.


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