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Advice? returning to gym after injury


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Hey there,

I'm actually looking for a bit of advice. I haven't been to the gym in almost a year and a half. I had gotten injured while I was training for a bikini competition in April/May of last year (at the time I was using broscience/standard american diet, combined with intermittent fasting) I not only got a shoulder impingement, but I also had brachial neuritis- a nerve was being pinched in my spine which caused significant weakness in my left arm/back (the best way to describe it would be temporary paralysis, I suppose). I was already considering veganism during that time and when I realized I had to focus on recovery, I adopted the lifestyle over night.

physical therapy lasted about six months but even after It ended my shoulder was still bothering me- particularly if I wore a backpack or even walked for too long (say about 5 hours). Its only now that I feel okay. I haven't noticed any issues. I would love to start going to the gym again to build up my strength. The thing is, after going hard for so long I'm not exactly sure what sort of program I should adopt for the next 1-3 months to transition back into it.

I'm not sure if I want to make an attempt at the whole bikini thing. I know that what I had been following before had lead me to disordered eating. I was only consuming 1800 calories at the time- while training for two hours and stretching for another hour, six times per week. I'd like to take a much healthier approach---

I want to get some lean muscle- maybe even some abs if possible (seems to be the standard gym goal)


have any of you taken a long break from the gym due to an injury? how did you transition? how should I go about this? Should I be switching between muscle groups throughout the week (leg day, back day, etc) or should I be doing full body workouts throughout the week?


In terms of food I'm usually consuming a high carb low fat diet / 80-10-10 macro nutrient profile. I consume between 2400-3000 calories a day (ish) and I eat raw or cooked depending on how I feel during that meal. I never made an attempt at building muscle like this so any advice would be appreciated.

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I would suggest a beginner full body routine utilizing compound movements 3x per week starting light. Off days work on flexibility, mobility, restoration. That can actually be done daily too.


Pick one lower body for 3 sets:

BB back squat

BW squats

Front squats



Pick one vertical pull for 3 sets:



Lat pull down (supinated, pronated, or neutral grip)


Pick one vertical push for 3 sets:

Overhead press

Dumbbell press


Pick one horizontal pull for 3 sets:

BB bent row

DB row

Seated cable row


Pick one horizontal push for 3 sets:


Bench press*

DB bench press*

*not until you can do push-ups for 3x20


Each workout pick a different movement from each category with the exception of *

Keep a journal to track progress

Don't get greedy with gains. Quick progress is forced and will stall.

Utilized full ROM safely

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Hey Eiji,

Thank you so much. The day after I made that post I actually decided to focus on legs- I chose a routine I had followed before. It felt fine the first day - thought I could have even pushed harder, honestly- but I wanted to take it slow...I still feel stiff and sore. Second day I couldn't really touch my toes and I was hobbling around like an old lady haha. That was a bit of a surprise.

I really appreciate the information provided. I'm sure this'll be more advantageous than my first attempt. I do not want to wreck my body. I'd like to take it slow and build up. The last thing I want to do is get injured again.

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To avoid injuring your shoulder again - supposing the neuritis and impingement were caused by injuring or straining something - it would be wise to not lift any weights higher than shoulder height if that causes pain until you are sure everything is healed. Rotator cuff exercises might help. Only use very light weights or even no weight at all apart from the weight of your arm and hand for the rotator cuff exercises.


Some shoulder impingement is caused by the shape of the acromion joint:



Some info about avoiding shoulder injuries:



He mentions scapular press ups (push ups in the USA) in Shoulder Saver 2. You could also try scap pull ups. You keep your arms straight and just pull up a couple of inches by pulling your shoulders down. Then there are also scap dips - straight arms, just moving the shoulders. And scap rows - straight arms, just moving the shoulders. Use very light weights. For the pull ups, keep your feet on the ground so you don't have to pull up your full body weight. Perhaps also for the dips. Until your shoulders are strong enough again.


You could also exercise your scapulae by raising your shoulders to your ears and then pushing them down again. Moving them forwards to round your back and then pulling them back so your shoulder blades are almost touching each other. Do a few reps until you feel mild fatigue. Don't strain too much.

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  • 3 weeks later...

You could try blood flow restriction training you only go up to 30% of your 1rm I use it for legs biceps triceps and chest when I don't feel like going heavy that day the reps are 30/15/15/15 minute break between sets. Worked really good for me getting back into the gym after surgery

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  • 5 months later...

Make sure to incorporate lots of stretching into your routine and start light with the weightlifting. You need to make sure that your form is perfect so that you do not tweak anything. I would not go to failure for the first month or so

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