How To Maintain Fitness While Recovering From An Injury


How To Maintain Fitness Recovery From An InjuryHow To Maintain Fitness While Recovering From An Injury
by Dr. Lee

There comes a time in everyone’s workout routine where he or she encounters an injury and requires time off.  The question becomes exactly how much rest do you need, and when will you know it’s time to start up again.  Some other commonly asked questions are:

  • Should I even work out while injured?
  • If yes then how hard should I workout?
  • When will I know its time to return to my full workout?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of an increased injury?

You will want to at least maintain a level of fitness while you are in recovery and that is what we will discuss in this article.

Naturally, we are to assume that you have been to a Doctor, Chiropractor and/or Physical Therapist to exam your injury and provide you with some answers. We also recommend that you run these ideas past your primary health care provider before you begin on your road to recovery.

Follow the RICE rule:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

During your recover phase you will need to increase your stretching significantly. My recommendation is to take a few personalized yoga classes, one on one. Specifically with a certified instructor who deals with yoga therapy for injuries.

An excellent method of recovery is through cross training. This involves using all of the other healthy parts of your body to maintain your required level of fitness. It can actually be quite fun and creative and in most cases, you will add new routines to your exercise bag of tricks.

Ankle and Foot Injuries
If you have an ankle or foot injury, you could begin with rowing or using a stationary bike with one or both feet depending on the severity and type of injury.  Another low impact exercise that can be performed is swimming.  In the pool environment you can create a variety of motions that will increase your heart rate and enhance your cardiovascular workout, while not effecting the injury. In many cases, the cooler water of a pool can help increase blood flow and speed up recovery.  The cardio exercises can be done 25-55 min, three times a week.

Leg and Knee Injury
With a leg and knee injury you will need to be very careful not to bend the leg with any of your exercises. Like the ankle and foot injury you can do most of the same exercises using one leg only. If you are in the pool, you could use a buoy to stabilize your injured leg. With most leg injuries you can maintain both an upper bodywork out and abdominal work out, however, with a heightened awareness of your injury.

My recommendation with your new “injured” routine is to increase the repetitions and lower the weight. Do not try and match your past weights and strengths during your recover.

Elbow and Shoulder Injuries
With elbow and shoulder injuries you should be able to do almost all cardio workouts except those involving shoulder or elbow rotation.  Leg workouts, such as riding a stationary bike or doing abdominal routines are recommended.

Low Back Injuries
Finally, the low back injury workout. This is the most difficult injury to advise on, since most low back injuries are linked to disc problems. In my opinion, exercising should be halted until a visit to your local Chiropractor has eliminated the disc issue. It is important to remember that any further stress on a disc related injury can create a more serious health issue to manage. In most cases, the low back problems fall under three categories.

  • Muscle pull
  • Ligament tear/pull
  • Disc problem

Muscle pulls can be treated by using heat and massage. Ligament tears need to be iced and rested, again using the RICE principle. Disc problems need to be adjusted by a Chiropractor, iced and rested. Once the Low Back Injury has been addressed and you are able and permitted to return to your recovery regiment, you will want to start with light walking and perhaps a stationary bike.

When should you return to your normal work out routine?  The following is a good guideline.

  • You no longer have any pain
  • There is no visual swelling
  • You have full range of motion
  • You can place all of your body weight comfortable on both lower limbs
  • You have checked with your health care provider, preferable a Chiropractor

About Author

Tom Crandall

Totally into multi-sports including triathlon, swimming, cycling, running skating and movement in general. Love to trail run and hang outdoors.

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