Patient’s often ask, when can I go back to the gym? Can I take spin class? Can I do yoga? It would be great if there were some in depth analytics behind the answer or some quantifiable YES markers to measure. But the answer is unbearably simple and always the same:
You can do anything that doesn’t cause pain.
Pain means irritation, inflammation and tissue damage. Our body is even sometimes smart enough to give us pain BEFORE tissue damage happens but it’s still a sign of poor function and increased inflammation that will lead to stiffening/local swelling. So if you are injured, feeling pain at the sight of injury or anywhere related to it, is like scratching a scab that is trying to heal. It will set back the healing process and promote increased inflammation.
So don’t feel pain, but this is not to be confused with don’t move. The full correct answer on how to modify exercises or workout after an injury is: move the affected area as much as possible with NO pain. This sometimes means wiggling your ankle 1/2 an inch back and forth for 30 minutes. This would be a great way to help heal an ankle sprain as you provide circulation and mobility with zero pain.
It’s so simple yet so hard for people to accept and adhere by. There is only one modification once injured or when returning from injury, Don’t Cause Pain.
Hope this helps,
Daniel Padmos, MM, PTA