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How I Eased Into A Consistent Workout Routine After My Back Injury

mother and daughter preparing for a bike ride

I remember it like it was yesterday. Several years ago, I was about 32 years old, and I was walking up the stairs when with one step something felt off. I kept going, but within a couple of hours I was on the couch in so much pain. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a pinched nerve. The medication they prescribed helped, but it was back problems again and again following that first incident.


Fast forward to 2016, and after several years of constant issues with my back but no answers as to why it kept happening, I did my own research. In my research, I found that my back issues were likely coming from tight hamstrings and hip flexors. You see, I was notorious for not properly cooling down and stretching my body following a workout. I was lifting weights, working out several days a week, and not treating my body properly in the process. Once I started consistently stretching there were no back issues for several years until last month.


Although nothing about my workout routine had changed, while I was working out I felt something in my back, and when it happened, I went down again. The pain was excruciating, and I was unable to walk properly. I required a wheelchair when I went to the doctor, and had to use a walker in the days following while trying to regain my mobility.


During my doctor's visit, the doctor did advise me to wait a few weeks before resuming any weightlifting, and even though I regained my mobility within the week, I knew I would want to start working out but had to approach things differently. If I'm honest, I was definitely scared to pick up weights again, so easing back into a consistent workout routine had to be simple and safe. It doesn't get any safer than walking, and that's where I started. I purchased a good pair of walking shoes, and about two weeks following my injury my lighter exercise routine began. I started walking about a couple of miles to get used to working out again. As I became comfortable with that, I added my weighted vest to challenge myself a bit more. My vest is about 12 pounds and I've had it for several years. It helped challenge my body but was still gentle on it. I would then follow up my walks with just a few simple body weight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, or squats.


Starting to ride my bike after my back injury

I also added bike riding to my routine which was wonderful on these summer days. This exercise is also gentle on my joints and my back, but it challenges my cardiovascular system, and most of all it allowed me to move my body without fear of injuring myself. Biking is much more fun with a partner so enjoying that time with my daughters and my sister was an added benefit. I would do the same thing after biking like adding on a few extra body weight exercises for a little bit of strength training.


Another workout routine I hadn't done in a while but was able to add into my regimen was Pilates Ironically, Pilates is one of the exercise routines I started with years ago, and when I saw my daughter doing this, I decided to join her. Eventually, I pushed beyond Pilates once I added more strength training to my workout routine, but it was cool to remember this was another way to workout and be gentle on my body too. I really enjoyed Pilates, and adding this in during this time plus doing it with my daughter was a nice treat.


My sister and daughter joining me on a bike ride

All of these exercises are a simple way to begin building a consistent workout routine, and they're gentle enough when you may have suffered an injury as a starting point. Absolutely make sure you consult with your doctor first, but these were easy enough for me to do, and my doctor gave me the green light. There are plenty of videos and information available that will help get you started without costing a lot of money as well. Start out slow and work your way up, and even consider recruiting a buddy to come along with you for fun. In the upcoming weeks I still think that before I venture back into weights, I'm going to use resistance bands. I'm trying to get over my fear, but I'm also trying to listen to my body and be gentle with it because ultimately I desire to be exercising well into my older years, so I'm learning to take things slower and simply be patient with myself. What's your favorite type of exercise?


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