how to quickly and safely recover from an exercise related injury

If you’ve previously had an injury or currently have any pain when training, how fast you recover is important. Even if severe injuries are not present, how comfortable you feel when doing your workout can make all the difference in how quickly and how safely you progress. 

The fundamental concept of exercise rehabilitation is to take the least amount of time necessary for recovery as well as ensuring that it’s as safe as possible. Slow and steady might win the race but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a fun one! This article will focus on how to improve recovery from an injury without taking too much time off from exercising.

 In the end, I will provide some long-term strategies for how to keep your back (and other areas) feeling 100%.

The first step in how quickly recovering from an injury is to understand how injuries work. There are three stages of injury that should be taken into consideration when looking at how to quickly recover from an exercise-related injury. It’s important to realize how much time each stage takes because you will need to take this into account when planning your recovery timeline. The three stages are:

  1. Acute Stage – this is the initial stage immediately post-injury. This typically lasts 1-3 days and the main goal should be decreasing any swelling, redness, heat, or pain associated with the area. For example, if you have a painful “pinching sensation” in your lower after doing deadlifts, how fast you recover to do the same exercise again will depend on how severe this initial stage is. The more pain but with less swelling or redness, then the quicker you should be able to return to that exercise.
  2. Subacute Stage – this is usually between 3-10 days after injury. Typically there are still some symptoms of the acute stage but they are relatively milder. For example, if you were doing squats and felt a painful “pinching sensation” post workout but quickly recovered within 1-3 days, how long it takes for the area to feel ready for squats again should reflect how many days have passed since your acute stage started. If you went 10 days without squatting, then how long it takes to recover should be how long it would take you during the subacute stage.
  3. Chronic Stage – this is typically anything after 10 days. At this point, how quickly you recover will depend on how severe your injury was and how well you’ve been able to rehab the area. For example, if someone has a “pinching sensation” in their lower back for several weeks after doing deadlifts, how quickly they can start squatting again will be entirely dependent on how long that symptom persists (how chronic their injury is). This article focuses on how fast you can return from acute and subacute stages so keep in mind that if the injury has become chronic or still lingers even after at least 10 days, how fast you can return to exercise will take longer (likely several weeks instead of a few days).

Understanding how injuries work is important for how quickly you can recover from an injury. If your injury becomes chronic and never fully heals, how safely and how quickly you progress through your training will also be impacted. 

Even if the pain and symptoms clear up very quickly (say within 24 hours), how soon you return to exercise should depend on how long it takes the area to feel 100%. For example – say you had a “pinching sensation” in your lower back immediately post-workout after deadlifting but the pain went away completely within just 1-3 days. 

Now let’s say that some time has passed and how long it takes the area to feel 100% is how quickly it recovers in the acute stage (1-3 days). While how fast you’re able to return may depend on how severe your injury is initially, how long it takes for the area to feel 100% again will be entirely dependent on how well your rehab and how chronic your injury has become.

The second step in how to quickly recover from an injury is understanding how training affects how quickly an injury improves. The most important factor in determining how fast an exercise-related injury returns to feeling normal again is time off from training. This means that taking any amount of time off can seriously affect not only how quickly you recover but also how safely you were able to progress through your workouts. For example – let’s say that how quickly you recover from how long your injured area feels 100% can be affected by how chronic the injury is (10 days instead of 1-3). This also means how safely and how quickly you can progress through your workouts will be heavily influenced by how long it takes for this area to feel 100% again. Even if you were able to return to exercise within a full subacute stage (3-10 days), how soon you’re able to start progressing back towards more intense workouts (training) is entirely dependent on how much time passed since your acute stage started.

for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers.