Whether you have experienced bone spurs, an ankle sprain or a major ligament tear, you may find it difficult to get back into your usual workout routine. Springing back into daily exercise following an extensive rest period can be hard both mentally and physically. While the key to overcoming the mental piece of this puzzle is simply to force yourself to begin and to enlist a workout buddy to keep you accountable, the physical aspect may not be so easy.

If you start back into your workouts quickly, you could risk reinjuring your body, which could result in an even worse injury than you had in the first place. You may be dismayed to discover that you have lost some of the strength or endurance that you had built up prior to your injury. Due to continuing pain or decreased range of motion, you may not even be able to do some moves without pain. Once you have your doctor’s okay to go back to your old exercise routine, follow these four tips to ensure that you safely strengthen and tone your body again.

Start Slowly

Do not immediately start with an exact replica of your old workout. Find a way to shorten it, lighten it or ease up on it. For example, if you are a runner, begin with just a mile. If you lift weights, start with a very small amount. In general, do about 50 percent of what you used to do and only increase your workouts when you can do so without negative symptoms.

Stretch Plenty

Flexibility is a key part to easing the pain associated with numerous injuries. While you were recovering from your injury, you were most likely told to keep your affected body part immobile. This could have made your body stiff and more likely to be sore when you work out now. Gentle stretching should be done after your body is at least partially warm.

Pay Attention to Pain

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something could be wrong. While a bit of discomfort is all right, stop immediately if you feel a sharp or severe pain. If you have pain several hours after working out, you may have worked out too vigorously while recovering.

Look into Sports Therapy

If your injury was severe or caused you to be immobile for a lengthy time, your doctor may recommend that you look into sports therapy. Manhatten sports therapy is usually performed by those with a degree in sports science or with a background in physical therapy. They can help you learn how to work out safely and how to regain mobility and strength.

Resist the urge to go full force into your workout program once you get your doctor’s okay. Instead, give yourself grace to work out for less time than you once did, to use lighter weights or to modify certain moves until your body is ready to perform them fully. Always be sure to listen to your body because it will typically give you signs when you are working out too hard or too long. Within several weeks, you should find that you are very close if not all the way back to your previous workout level.