No matter how bad your injury is or how long your recovery lasts, it is critical to allow your body to have ample time to heal itself. As you begin to get back into the gym, you have to be extra careful to not do anything that could either re-injure yourself or cause some setbacks for your recovery.

If you are strategic about your recovery, you can be back into the gym in no time without the risk of further injuring yourself. Here are some useful tips from experts to help you return to your routine. Listen to this advice, but be sure to also listen to your body and your doctor.

Look at your calendar

Your specific injury will impact the time frame for your return, but you can use a formula to give you a general idea of how long this could be.

For example, the time it takes to get your cardio back up is usually proportional to the amount of time that you stopped exercising. So, if you stop for two weeks, it will take two weeks of working out to gain back your lost endurance.

However, if you experience a major setback like surgery or a broken bone and you are out for a really long period of time, you might have more work to do to regain your strength.

Start simple and make small increases over time, without straining your body too much. If you move too quickly, you will risk more injuries. Use your level of soreness to gauge if you are ready to progress to the next level. If you don’t experience soreness after working out, you can slightly increase your intensity during your next workout.

Lighten the Load

You may have high hopes for your first few workouts but aim low. Instead of going for a long run like you are used to doing or lifting the heaviest weights, do a bit less than you think you are able to do. It is much better to be safe than sorry in this situation and you want to ease your body back into the routine of working out.

Remember, you have a lot of time ahead of you to get back to your normal routine. You will get there faster if you don’t strain your body right away. Even though the workout you do at first may feel easy, changes are still happening in your body that is necessary in order to make a full recovery.

Don’t Push Yourself

If you start to feel good during your first few workouts, don’t push yourself. Let down your competitive edge and give yourself time to build up the strength you need to hit those super intense moments. Make sure that you are able to assess your tolerance so you don’t try to go too far.

Focus just on what you can do rather than what may be dangerous. For example, if you are injured in your knee, focus more on upper body exercises and keep your knees rested for as long as you can. This way, you are still getting exercise, but you are not risking hurting your knee again.

Make sure that you allow yourself to feel accomplished with every small victory. It is important to be patient because it will certainly take a bit of time to return to your previous self after an injury. Just remember that this is nothing to be ashamed of and you should take as many breaks as you need. Always remember to listen to your body.