Exercise and Injury Often go Hand-in-Hand
It’s a common situation: your physical activity of choice has resulted in an injury, but you do not want to sacrifice all the progress you have made. While a sports injury may keep you from competing or performing at your regular capacity, it is not a reason to forgo exercise altogether. You can continue to train and maintain, or even improve your results with modified activities.
What to do if you’re injured and still want to exercise
In fact, physical activity is an essential part of rehabilitation and preventing future injuries. Follow these steps for best results, and remember to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.
Learn about your specific injury and the affected muscles
The first step to successfully working out with any injury is to gain an understanding of the nature of your injury and the muscles that are compromised by it. Remember: muscles, joints, and ligaments do not work in isolation. Regardless of the specific site of your injury, there are multiple muscles, tendons, and ligaments that may be affected.
Even basic knowledge of how the injured muscle works with those around it will help to prevent further injury or straining the surrounding muscles. You should ask your doctor or physical therapist the following questions:
- Where is the exact site of the injury?
- What is the nature of the injury (i.e. a tear, strain, sprain, bruise)?
- How does the muscle, tendon, or ligament function when healthy?
- What are its counterparts (i.e. the other muscles, tendons, or ligaments that help achieve the range of motion)?
Adapt your workouts
Once you have more specialized knowledge in the nature of your injury, you can work with your doctor, physical therapist, or trainer to develop a modified exercise regimen.
With some creativity, there is no reason that your physical fitness should be compromised by your injury.
- Modify specific exercises
Depending on the nature of your injury, there are likely variations of the exercises in your routine that are safe for you to perform. For instance, if you have a wrist injury, plank poses will be difficult to execute. However, you may modify them by balancing on your forearms instead of the palms of your hands.
Speak with a sports trainer for modifications of the exercises you like best based on the nature of your injury. Yoga is a great workout for the body and easily modified in this way after an injury.
- Focus on different areas of the body
Some injuries make exercise more difficult than others. For instance, knee issues can prevent running and strengthening exercises such as lunges and squats. If your injury is severe enough to prevent doing more than walking, you may need to focus your exercise on other parts of the body. Strengthening of the arms, using free weights while seated in combination with ab exercises on the ground may prove to be a suitable alternative in these cases.
- Reduce impact
Impact is one of the primary ways that injuries become aggravated. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce impact based on your injury and desired level of physical activity. You may opt for low impact exercise such as yoga. Restorative or yin yoga, which is even less demanding, can be great ways to stay active with more severe injuries. Pilates and other mat-based strength exercises, while more rigorous, may still be good options for reducing impact on the back and legs.
Swimming or performing other exercises in water is another way that trainers often reduce physical impact on athletes who are recovering from an injury without sacrificing on intensity.
Further tips for exercising safely
Exercising with an injury requires an added level of mindfulness. For best results, keep the following in mind.
- Check with your doctor or physical therapist first. Exercises that seem harmless can still make your sports injury worse. For this reason, run the types of exercises you would like to perform by a licensed healthcare professional.
- Listen to your body. If you experience discomfort during any exercise at your injury site, stop immediately.
- Be patient. Injuries take time to heal and if you push yourself too much, too soon, you may end up adding recovery time to your rehabilitation.
By selecting exercises carefully and thinking creatively, you will be able to continue exercising with your sports injury. If you’re concerned about exercise safety at home, read this article to put your mind at ease.
Keep an open mind to modifications and new forms of exercise, and your body will thank you for continued workouts!
- How To Exercise With A Sports Injury And Still Get Results - July 19, 2017