Getting back into exercise following injury or illness

By Susan Edmunds

Exercise can help the rehabilitation process, writes Susan Edmunds.

An exercise programme can help. Photo / Thinkstock
An exercise programme can help. Photo / Thinkstock

Injury or illness can often put an end to even the most ingrained exercise regimes. Goals go out the window and fitness suffers when faced with serious health scares. But Rachel Mahoney, BodyTech operations manager and head of the gym's MedFit department, says building an appropriate exercise regime into rehabilitation can make recovery faster and easier.

While she says a properly tailored workout can be helpful for people recovering from cancer, surgery, injury - or so many different things, Mahoney stresses the exercise programmes she designs for her clients aren't a miracle cure.

"[But] exercise is beneficial in the treatment of more than 50 medical conditions."

A well-planned exercise programme can help someone feel healthy and have more energy while dealing with their condition. After a health scare, a helping hand to get back into exercise can enable someone to feel safe and in control when they head back into the gym for the first time.

The MedFit programmes take the idea of working out as part of recovery to the next level. They are a type of prescription exercise, designed to help with recovery from a specific health condition.

Even minor ailments can be catered for. When I joined BodyTech, I was told it was weak core muscles that were causing twinges in my back - a programme that targeted those muscles definitely improved my posture and comfort.

Mahoney has a background in the health field. She trained as an osteopath but works at BodyTech because she likes being involved with exercise and fitness. She says exercise is a vital part of recuperation from a number of serious ailments.

The only caveat she places on it is that would-be exercisers need to get clearance from their doctor. Mahoney says she has six people she deals with on a regular basis, but can talk to up to three people a day.

The goal is to get people to be self-sufficient and able to work out as normal, whether it's on their own or with another personal trainer. A lot of clients only require a couple of sessions, but some work with her for a long time.

The MedFit programmes are a new approach in New Zealand, she says, and denote a shift in thinking. "Five or 10 years ago doctors would have shunned exercise." But now it's accepted that exercise is important to maintain general health and help with ailments.

Mahoney says a lot of the success of the MedFit programmes comes down to attention to detail. For example, someone with a slipped disc in their back would be encouraged to think about their position while exercising to reduce the pressure on their spine. Clients are given programmes that work within their capabilities.

An initial assessment costs $135 and then it is $95 for a follow-up. Seventy-five per cent of people need only one to three sessions.

Exercising after injury

* Consider different types of cardio workouts. Cross-training can help you stay fit, even if an injury means you can't take part in your normal routines or sports.

* Go slowly - don't overextend yourself. Too much, too soon can cause more problems. Differentiate between exertion from the workout and pain, and if you are in pain, stop.

* Warm up and cool down properly.

* Focus on stretching - massage may also help to relax muscles.

* Talk to your doctor or health professional about what you can safely do and what you should expect of your body.

- NZ Herald

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