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Cycling Your Workout Regimen continued...

Rich Baudry, PT, a physical therapist at Crescent City Physical Therapy in New Orleans, has developed a specialized workout for golfers, who often need to increase flexibility, especially in hip and shoulder rotation.

"You need to play within the limits of your particular capabilities," he says. "If you aren't flexible enough right now to do a full swing, then you have to shorten your swing while you work to improve your capabilities over time."

Because workouts can take so many different forms, it's very helpful to get expert advice. How often do you need to see a personal trainer?

"That depends on how intelligent and motivated you are," Hoffman says. "Do you need to see someone often to kick your butt, or do you need guidance every six weeks to refresh your program?"

Hoffman recommends asking for recommendations about personal trainers, just the way you'd ask around when looking for a new doctor. "Talk to friends who've worked with that trainer and ask whether they've made progress," he says.

Workouts for Special Situations

Suppose you're going back to exercise after surgery. T.R. Goodman, a certified personal trainer who works out of Gold's Gym in Venice, Calif., helped actor James Caan after surgery on his shoulder. They went through a series of steps starting with assisted movements, so the muscle fibers would get exercise without being overstrained. Then they used gentle stretching motions, and then repetitive work with very light medicine balls.

"After surgery you have to think of the area as if it has its own identity -- as if it's an infant, weak and afraid," Goodman says. "You have to convince the muscles they can function again in an uninhibited way, that other muscles don't have to compensate."

Workouts after a sports injury vary, Goodman says, depending on the specific joint and injury. General principles include rest and anti-inflammatories at first.

"Then you have look at the underlying causes," he says. "There may be a problem in movement patterns that can be corrected through appropriate exercises and muscle strengthening."

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