Exercising With Injuries
The Importance of RICE Guidelines Following an injury, most medical professionals will recommend following the R.I.C.E. guidelines. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, and helps your body part to heal so that you can get back to your normal workouts. What Does R.I.C.E. Entail? As you know, R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These are the basic components of first aid when you have a sprain, strain, or other similar injuries. Here is a breakdown of each part of the RICE treatment plan: Rest – You first want to make sure you get plenty of rest following an injury. Don’t put weight on a foot if you just sprained your ankle, and be careful about lifting heavy objects if you just threw out your back. Getting rest is one of the most important treatments for an injury. Ice – Next is icing the area, which is good for reducing swelling and inflammation of the joint. This is where a lot of the pain comes from, so you will notice intermittent icing helps to reduce the pain as well. Just make sure the ice or ice pack is not applied directly to the skin; cover it in a thin towel first. Compression – Compression means to wrap the area to keep it supported and free from further injury. You can either wrap it yourself, such as with an Ace bandage or go to urgent care to get it wrapped by a medical professional. Elevation – Lastly, you will need to elevate the extremity where you got the injury. You usually need it elevated above the level of your heart, which reduces pain and helps to reduce the swelling. How is it Helpful For an Injury? When you follow these steps, you are helping to reduce the pain and more importantly, reduce the swelling. That swelling causes inflammation of the joint, which is only going to make it more painful. R.I.C.E. can also help to speed up the healing process and reduce permanent tissue damage to the joints involved in the injury. This should only be looked at as a short-term treatment plan for the first few days after an injury. If you still have swelling after 72 hours, you need to go to a doctor and get x-rays done. It is possible that the injury is more severe than you anticipated. In this case, they might need to perform surgery or provide another medical treatment. How to Know When You’re Ready to Exercise While you know it is important to rest and let your injured extremity heal; there comes the point when you can go back to your normal fitness routine. But how do you know you’re ready? Here are some things a doctor will look for when determining if now is the right time. You Have Full Range of Motion One of the first signs that it is time to get back to your workouts is when you have a full range of motion of the injured extremity. Perhaps you injured your shoulder, and you can now move it around like you were able to before; this is a really good sign. There are times when you are starting to get some range of motion, but not fully, so this is when you can exercise but still want to be a little more careful. If you keep stretching the area, you should get that range of motion back eventually. The Swelling is Down Swelling typically occurs shortly after the injury takes place, and can last days or weeks depending on how severe the injury was. Swelling can go down with proper rest and icing the area. If the swelling has not gone down, it is not safe to exercise with that part of your body. So, if you sprained your wrist, but your wrist and hand are still quite swollen, continue voiding exercises like weight training that use your wrists. The Joints Don’t Lock or Give Out This is something you will need to test by bearing weight or using the part of your body that was injured. This should only be done when you are starting to get a range of motion, the pain is mostly gone, and the swelling is completely gone. Gradually start testing the joint to see how it functions. If you sprained your ankle, try bearing weight on it and walking without using your crutches or a cane. If it doesn’t give out or lock as you are walking, it is starting to get better, and you can exercise slowly. You Have the Energy Physical injuries can really zap your injury, making it hard to motivate yourself to get up, let alone exercise. If you are still in the phase of recovery where you have no energy, you are probably not quite ready for your typical fitness routine. Give yourself time to heal, and the energy will start to come back. Common Mistakes to Avoid When Exercising With Injuries Exercising with injuries can be difficult, but it is also important not to completely forget about fitness until you’re recovered. That also doesn’t mean you should continue working out, ignoring the pain and making the injury worse. Here are some common mistakes people tend to make when they are exercising after getting an injury. Being Unrealistic About What You Can Do This is a very common mistake people tend to make after getting an injury. You have been working out hard for months or even years, and now you have a sprained ankle or blew out your knee. But because you work out so hard, you think you can still do it, and just put up with the pain. That pain you feel is a warning sign that there is something wrong; it is not the same discomfort you get when you work harder. If you try to do too much and are unreasonable about your abilities with an injury, you are not only slowing down the healing process but could make the injury worse. Ignoring the Pain and Warning Signs Naturally, this brings us to the next mistake people sometimes make with injuries. This is when you feel pain or have other warning signs while exercising with injuries, but you choose to ignore it. As mentioned, this can hurt you more than help. While you don’t want to remain sedentary, you need to add exercise gradually and only after your doctor has approved it. If you ignore the pain, you are putting yourself at a lot of risks, possibly even leading to a permanent injury. Assuming the Internet Can Answer All Your Problems While the internet has a lot of great answers, it isn’t the same as going to your doctor. If you are concerned about something, want help with healing your injured body, or are curious if you have rested long enough, you should really talk to your doctor. They can perform x-rays and run tests to see if you are ready to put weight on that part of your body or to get back to your normal fitness routine. They also ensure you don’t make the injury worse. This is important to keep in mind because you definitely don’t want to prolong the healing process. As long as you listen to your body and know when something is too difficult, you should be able to get back to exercising after an injury. Slow and Steady Wins the Race A common piece of advice you will get when you want to continue exercising after you get an injury is that you need to take it slow. You should not get up and start doing the same workout you always did just because the swelling has gone down. Going slow and steady will be more beneficial to you in the long run. Get Your Doctor’s Approval Before you start working out following an injury, you should consult your doctor. This is really the safest way to go because they can examine you and be sure you won’t cause any harm. Sometimes, it feels like you are better because the pain has lessened and the swelling has gone down, but until you start working out, you don’t realize that area of your body isn’t quite ready for an exercise routine. Your doctor can examine it and take x-rays to look at the damage, then let you know if now is a good time to get back to your workouts. They can also let you know how much or how little is okay to do right now. Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Rest People live busy lives and are constantly moving, but rest is important when you are injured. Don’t just back to your normal life on day 2 of healing, assuming it will work itself out. You can do more damage and prolong the healing time exponentially. Go slow with the part of your body that was injured, not pushing yourself too much. When you feel you are ready to start exercising again, make sure you have also spent enough time resting, icing, and elevating that part of your body. Start Slow and Gradually When you do begin your fitness routine after an injury, start slow and with the easiest exercises. If you sprained your wrist and want to start weight training again, choose a lighter dumbbell and gradually work up to adding more weight when you test out your wrist and see how much it can handle. If you hurt your knee or ankle, don’t start off running, but start walking first, then go a little faster with jogging until you reach your normal running speeds. This gets the injured joint and muscle used to the same level of endurance and won’t make your injury worse. By following these simple tips, you will be able to exercise with an injury and not create a brand new one. Find New Workouts You Can Do When you have an injury, it often means you can’t complete your normal fitness routine. Perhaps you have been running every day, but with a sprained ankle you have to take a break, or you can no longer use the treadmill because it is hard on your knees. While this can be frustrating, it is also a good time to try new things and discover other workouts you can still do. Here are some new workouts you might want to try. Work a Different Part of the Body One good way to find a brand new exercise while you are recovering from your injury is to focus on something that works a different part of the body. For example, if you have injured your ankle, you can try something that primarily works your upper body. This can be weight lifting or something like kettlebells. There are some lunges and squats that push pressure on your ankle, but you can modify these moves and still get a great workout. Walking is Good For Most Injuries While there are some exceptions, walking is usually a good exercise you can do when you are recovering from injuries. You can choose where you want to walk, your intensity, and how long. This is what is so great about it. To turn it into a new workout, try changing the scenery like walking close to a large body of water instead of on a treadmill, or taking a hike through the park. With hiking, just remember that if you have a back or shoulder injury, the backpack you carry might be too much while healing. Try Swimming and Water Aerobics Getting into the pool is not only refreshing but can be a wonderful workout when you are recovering from injuries. It is really gentle on your body, and the water takes all the pressure off your joints. So, whether you through your shoulder out or you sprained your wrist, you can definitely handle some water workouts. Water aerobics really gets you moving, but there is nothing wrong with just swimming laps to get in a good water workout. Give Yoga a Try Yoga is often recommended for various types of injuries because it helps to stretch out your joints, while providing a low-impact workout. It tones your body and works on flexibility, which can also be good for injuries, and it shouldn’t affect most extremities. Of course, don’t be afraid to modify moves as needed. How to Exercise With an Ankle Injury If you sprained your ankle or rolled it, you will notice that exercising is suddenly very difficult. Even without realizing it, you spent a lot of time standing, walking, and twisting your feet and ankles, all of which is now hard to do. Luckily, this doesn’t mean you can’t exercise, but that you need to re-think what you do. Here are some helpful tips for exercising after you get an ankle injury. Weight Training Following an injury to the ankle, you typically want to simply focus your exercises on another part of the body. This often means doing more upper body workouts, such as weight training. It is a good time to work on your weight training, especially if you typically only do cardio. Combining both is best when you want to have a well-balanced workout routine. You can easily sit and do many weight exercises, as well as sitting on the edge of your bed if you prefer. Choose Cardio That is Non-Weight Bearing You may not want to skip cardio completely, or you can gain weight, and it will be harder to get back to exercising when your ankle begins to heal. There are some cardio workouts that don’t require you to bear any weight on your ankle, so these are good to try out. The first is swimming, which puts no pressure on your ankle at all. Your body is supported by the water, even if you are in the shallow end with your feet touching the ground. The water can be soothing, while you are also able to get in an excellent workout. Try swimming laps or doing some water aerobics. You can also use an exercise bike, which does put your feet on the petals, but they don’t move, bend, or twist, so it is usually okay with a sprained ankle. You just want to start slow and wrap your ankle first to give it a little more support. Work on Strengthening Your Core You can also strengthen your core when you have an ankle injury. A lot of floor exercises like Pilates and just ordinary crunches will work on building those ab muscles and strengthen your core to help avoid back injuries in the future. Modify some moves that require planting your feet on the ground or just skip them and do moves that don’t involve your legs at all. Workouts That Are Easy on Your Back Back injuries are common and come from a wide range of causes. You might have been in a vehicle accident, injured your back from working out too hard or bent over incorrectly while picking up something heavy. If you have a back injury, you can still exercise, but you need to choose carefully. Partial Crunches When you have a back injury, it is not easy to work on your core muscles. The majority of ab exercises involve the use of your back with a lot of bending, lifting, and twisting. Since this isn’t possible, you may think all ab exercises are out of the question, but it is still possible to exercise and work on your abdominal muscles without hurting your back too much. One good option is to do partial crunches, which means you are not doing a full setup. These are much easier on your back, and really the only muscles being worked are your ab muscles. Swimming As you might have already guessed, swimming is high up on the list of workouts that are easy to do even if you have back pain. Swimming comes in many forms, from swimming laps to doing aerobics while in the pool. You are just moving your body continuously for at least 30 minutes while in the pool is a good workout, as you are using the water for resistance. With a bad back, a lot of exercises are going to be painful because this is your core where it needs to move and twist a lot. But with swimming, your back is being supported by the water, so there is much less stress put on your back muscles, helping you to burn calories without having pain. Yoga Yoga is good for your back since it works on your balance, flexibility, and strength, with plenty of modifications. Try gentler yoga moves that don’t cause too much pressure or stress on your back, but still help to stretch it out and strengthen it while you heal from your injury. Wall Sits Don’t forget about simple exercises that will work your leg muscles without affecting your back at all. One good and simple exercise you can do at home is a wall sit. You will stand up against a wall with your back flat and straight, then gradually bend your knees until you are in a sitting position. Imagine you are sitting on an invisible chair. Hold it for a few seconds, go back up, and repeat a few more times. Since your back is straight the entire time, this should not cause it any more pain. Fitness Routine to do With a Shoulder Injury One of the more common physical injuries to get is a shoulder injury, which may actually be from your workouts, or for another reason. Here are some tips for creating a fitness routine you can do if you have a shoulder injury. Stretch and Warm Up For Longer If you have a shoulder injury, many exercises can cause pain if you aren't careful. Not just in the exercise itself, but how you get ready for it. Your doctor will probably tell you it is okay to start doing weight training and circuit training as your shoulder begins to heal, but if you don’t stretch it out and warm up, it could lead to more problems. Make sure you are giving yourself a few minutes before each workout session to warm up your muscles and make them more pliable so that the moves don’t hurt as much. Stop if Anything Hurts It is essential that when exercising with a shoulder or any other type of physical injury, you pay attention to your body. If something causes you pain or is otherwise uncomfortable, do not just try to work through the pain. This is only going to make it harder to heal that shoulder. These pain signals are telling you that is something is wrong, so either reduce the intensity or avoid that particular move that was causing the pain. Use Lighter Weights Trainers will often recommend doing more weights and lighter weight if you have a shoulder injury, but you still want to continue with weight training. This doesn’t have to last forever, but just while your shoulder injury continues to heal. The added weight can put too much strain on your shoulder, even leading to an additional tear. Instead, choose a much lighter weight, but do some extra reps to ensure you are still getting in a good workout. Focus On Your Form Some shoulder injuries can get worse if you are weight lifting and use improper form. Perhaps this wasn’t as big of an issue before your injury, but now every movement is uncomfortable. This is when it helps to have a trainer assist you for at least a few sessions until you have the right form. Find the area of your gym with a mirror so you can see how you are lifting those weights and make sure nothing is off balance. Exercising With a Hand or Wrist Injury If you have an injury to your hand or wrist, it will make certain exercises a little more difficult. But while you need to take a break from kettlebell and heavy weight lifting, that doesn’t mean there aren’t workouts you can continue doing. Here are some tips for exercising with a hand or wrist injury. Choose the Gym Machines Wisely With a hand or wrist injury, you might think that you can’t go to the gym anymore, but that is definitely not true! You just need to be more careful about the type of machines you end up using. The main motions that are going to be hard on your wrists are where you have to grip tightly. If you use any machines, make sure they don’t require you to grip onto anything. So while the pull-up bar and some of the weightlifting machines are probably out, you can still use the treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine, and a variety of other machines at the gym. Focus on More Reps and Less Weight As your hands or wrists begin to heal following the injury, you will probably want to start incorporating more weights to get back into your normal fitness routine. There is nothing wrong with doing this but start slowly. The best thing to do is go for a lighter weight but just do more reps. You are still getting a good workout without putting too much strain on your wrists. Start as low as you can, only increasing the weight as you begin healing as long as the previous weight is not causing you any pain. Lower Body Exercises This is probably a given, but remember if you have a hand or wrist injury, you could always just focus on lower body workouts. You don’t need to hold onto any type of weights, kettlebells, or resistance bands to get a good workout. This might include leg workouts like lunges and squats, Pilates moves on the floor that doesn’t use your hands or wrists at all, and even some standing yoga moves. Focus on Cardio A lot of cardio workouts don’t require you to use your hands or wrists, so this can be good to keep your body moving with a wrist injury. This includes aerobics or water aerobics, walking, jogging, hiking, and even dancing right in your living room to get a good workout. Keep Exercising Even With a Knee Injury When you get a knee injury, it is tempting to just remain in bed all day, or do as little as possible. While it is important to get enough rest shortly after you get the injury, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to move around when you feel comfortable doing so. Here are some options for exercising even if you have a knee injury. Modify Your Cardio Workouts With a knee injury, you can usually still do cardio workouts, though you need to make some modifications. You don’t want to do anything that will hurt your knee or inure it more. For example, if you are used to running being your main source of exercise, this is going to put too much stress on your knees, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise outside. Instead of running, try slower walking or even going on a hike, as long as it is flat ground since inclines can hurt your knee. You can also try some low-impact aerobics, modifying moves as needed. Try Seated Exercises For more serious knee injuries or following knee surgery, just walking might be difficult. IN this case, you can instead get your workout with your upper body only by trying seated exercises. The seated workouts include lifting weights while sitting in a chair or on the edge of your bed, working your arms, shoulders, back, and even sometimes your abs. Some seated workouts involve moving your legs to work those muscles as well, but won’t put the stress of your body’s weight on your knees, so they tend to hurt much less. Use Kettlebells Kettlebells are a lot of fun and provide a much better workout than you might imagine. The great thing about this is that most moves won’t use your knees at all, even though you are going to be standing. You just want to avoid moves like lunges and squats, since those are bad for your knees. Aside from that, the rest of the moves with the kettlebell you can still do, including the kettlebell swing. Just wrap your knee to keep it supported during the workout and be careful of how much stress is being put on your bad knee. These are just a few workouts you can do when you have a knee injury. Feel free to try some of your ordinary exercises when your knee begins to heal, starting slow and not pushing yourself too much. Exercises That Are Gentle on Your Hips If you have hip pain, either from a previous injury or simply due to a bad hip, then you may be wondering how you can still exercise and stay in shape. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do even with a bad hip. The following exercises are a little gentler on your hips. Elliptical While the treadmill can be a little hard on your hips since walking on a hard surface is difficult, the elliptical is something else entirely. This can actually be more of a smooth cardio workout, where there isn’t as much tension and stress on your legs and hips. People have even noted that their knees can handle an elliptical a little better than a treadmill. Try adding just a few minutes of elliptical training per day to burn calories while staying fit. Seated Workouts If you recently had hip surgery, you are probably told that the more weight you put on your legs, the more painful it is going to be. While you are recovering, or if you just have a bad hip, you should try workouts while sitting down. There are a lot of amazing seated workouts that will keep you in shape without affecting your hips at all. They range from doing all your weight lifting while sitting down, to moving your legs in various positions to get them working as well. Resistance Training Resistance Training is often done just standing or even sitting down. While you might need to modify some exercises, this can be something that is easy on your hips. One great way is by using a TRX. The TRX, which stands for total-body resistance exercise, uses a strap that provides suspension for your resistance training. It is very easy on all of your joints, but a good workout for your muscles. Most gyms will provide a TRX you can use, or you can get a set on your own and use them at home. There are instructions that come with the TRX to show you how to set it up and where to use it safely. You can start slow, then gradually increase your intensity as you get used to the workout. Add it to your fitness routine along with other workouts that are easy on your hips, and you will be staying fit even while your hip continues to heal. How to Workout With an Elbow Injury Injuring your elbow isn’t extremely common, though it does happen. This type of injury makes it hard to do much of anything because every movement of your arm uses your elbow. Here are some ways you can exercise if you have an elbow injury. Use an Exercise Bike The first thing you can do is use the stationary exercise bike at your gym or if you have one at home. This doesn’t require you to grip onto handlebars like a regular bicycle and can even be done with no arm movement at all. Use a stationary bike that sits upright, so you aren’t leaning forward and having to hold onto the handlebars for balance. Using a stationary bike without holding onto anything requires your legs and abs to do more work, so it is an even better workout for you. Try Walking or Jogging A simple way to get more cardio in if your elbow is in pain is to walk or jog. You just need to be careful of how much you move your arms while walking. Some people swing their arms a lot to build up momentum and because it helps burn more calories, but you need to avoid this if you have an elbow injury. A slower pace will allow your arms not to move around and bend quite so much. You can also try putting that arm in a brace to force it in position when you are working on these types of cardio workouts. Focus on Low-Impact Aerobics It is going to be hard to do weight training and circuit training with an injured elbow, but that doesn’t mean you can’t burn calories and get fit. Low-impact aerobics are great because they are easy on your body and you can modify certain exercises that don’t use your arms. Some aerobics routines involve using your arms and legs at the same time for a full-body workout, but it is easy to just do the leg and ab work while also keeping your arms in place. As your elbow begins to heal, you can then gradually start using it more. Many different workouts can be modified to where you can complete most of it without hurting your elbow or other injured parts of your body. This is perfect when you want to keep exercising, but you also don’t want to make your injury worse. Do’s and Don’ts of Exercising With Injuries When you get an injury, it can be hard to break up your normal fitness routine. There are some things you should do when you’re ready to exercise again, and others you need to avoid. Here are some important do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. Don’t Make the Injury Worse This is, unfortunately, a common mistake people make when they want to keep exercising after getting an injury. It is crucial that you exercise slowly and are gentle with your body following an injury. If you make the injury worse or create other injuries in the process, it is only going to take you longer before you can get back to your normal fitness routine. Follow your doctor’s orders and don’t go back to your normal amount of weight or intensity right off the bat. Do Rest After Getting an Injury Every injury needs time to heal, so don’t assume that just by working hard, you can ‘work through the pain.’ This is another quick way to make the healing take longer instead of helping speed it up. After an injury, rest the extremity, ice it, and go back to exercising slowly. Don’t Stop Exercising Altogether While you want to rest and give your injury proper time to heal, you should also avoid skipping exercise altogether. The longer you go without using your muscles, the harder it is going to be to get back on track. The best thing to do is go through the initial stage of rest and icing the extremity, then start working out different parts of your body. So if you have a wrist injury, skip the weight training and instead go for walks or hiking to keep yourself fit. If you hurt your knee, stay off the treadmill and instead focus on your seated weight training. Do Stretch and Warm Up One thing you can do with the injured part of your body is to stretch it slowly and gently. This is going to help it heal better and start working on a better range of motion. When you sprain something, there aren’t many doctors can do, but one thing you can do to help it heal faster is slowly starting stretching the area. Warming up a little longer before your workouts when you do pick them up again is another great way to exercise with injuries and not make them worse. How to Speed Up the Healing Process Following an injury, you are often in a rush to heal so that you can back to exercising and just your everyday normal routine. While you can’t rush the resting and ice stage, there are some things you can do to help healing go more smoothly. Apply Ice Right Away As soon as you get an injury, you need to ice it right away. The icing is really important because it helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, which also adds to the pain. You don’t want to ice it too much, but try about 5-10 minutes, remove it for a few minutes, then ice it again. Keep doing this until the swelling begins to go down. Try icing it a few times a day until you start to experience relief. Make sure the ice pack is covered with a thin towel so that it doesn’t cause damage to your skin from the direct contact. Do Stretches When You Can Another thing that will help your injured extremity or joint to heal is stretching it. This is something you should not do right away when you have limited range of motion, but gradually over time. Give it a few days of ice and rest, then slowly try moving that part of your body. Don’t push it, so do this very slowly until you know what you can manage. Gentle stretch by moving it in different directions, trying to do a little more each day. This will strengthen it and get it ready for regular movement before too long. Get Plenty of Nutrients The food you eat can also play an important role in the healing process of an injury. Sitting around and eating nothing but junk food is only going to make things worse. There are certain nutrients that can help injuries to heal, including herbs like turmeric, plenty of water, and various other vitamins and minerals. Talk to your doctor about changing your diet when you are healing so that you can ensure you are eating enough of all the important nutrients. This will also help keep you from gaining too much weight before you back to exercising. Get a Massage Massaging the area is also a great way to start speeding up the healing process. You can start by massaging that tendon or muscle yourself, or actually get a professional massage. This reduces swelling, helps with the pain, and stretches the area all at the same time. Just make sure you tell the massage therapist what injury you have so that they can be cautious. Easy Workouts to Get You Moving Again If you have sustained an injury recently, such as to your knee or ankle, you might find it hard getting up and moving like you used to. Before you get serious about your fitness, it is important that you let the healing take place, and you start exercising gradually. These easy workouts are going to be very helpful with this transition. Water Aerobics When you are looking up fitness with injuries, one thing you will notice a lot is swimming. This is because when you are in a pool, there is no stress or tension on any part of your body. This is good for any type of injury, even your feet and ankles since the water is helping support your body’s weight even while your feet are on the ground of the pool. Water aerobics helps you burn more fat and calories and keeps your body fit while in the pool. Floor Workouts Depending on the type of injury you have, floor workouts can work really well to get you moving without putting too much tension on the injured area. For example, if you broke your foot, and it is in a cast, you can probably still lay on your back and do quite a few of the Pilates moves. Yoga is typically a floor workout you can do with certain injuries, just by making some modifications to the more difficult moves. Walking Walking is going to be your new best friend when you try to pick up exercising after an injury. The majority of injuries can still handle some light walking, including injuries of the hip, knees, and feet. While you do want to start a little slower with injuries related to your legs and hips, this doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. Just start with a short 5 or 10-minute walk, then gradually increase how far you go over time. If you have a foot, ankle, or knee injury, avoid stairs and steep inclines until the healing progresses a little further. Cycling If you want to stay off your feet, but you can still place them on something (like a pedal), then the cycling machine can be good for you. This is going to keep your back upright if you have a back injury, and your feet and ankles aren’t moving around too much or putting stress on them since your leg muscles do most of the work. These Forms of Exercise Are Gentle on Your Body Whether you have an injury or you are simply just starting your exercise routine, you might be looking for something that is a little gentler on your body. The following forms of exercise are good for anyone and nearly every type of injury. Rowing While it might look difficult, using a rowing machine is actually much gentler on your body than you would think. This machine allows you to sit comfortably and only move your body slightly. Of course, it also happens to be an excellent workout for your upper body and core, while also helping to strengthen your back muscles. This is a nice break from putting weight on your feet, ankles, and knees if those parts of your body are currently giving you problems. You just want to avoid this if you have a shoulder, wrist, or hand injury. Treadmill or Elliptical If your injury is in your upper body, then a treadmill is your best option. This can be gentler than walking on the ground because you are on flat, even footing, and it is easy to control your speed and intensity. Sometimes when you walk outside, there are paths with dirt or uneven ground, which can be hard on certain parts of your body. With an elliptical, it is even easier on your hips and knees. Low-Impact Aerobics When you want to get in a good cardio workout, but you are still recovering from an injury, a little low-impact aerobics is a good idea. You can modify many of the moves to make them even easier, then gradually work up to the intensity of the aerobics class. This is also something that is flexible with where you do it, from using a DVD or following a YouTube video at home or going to a class at your gym. Just be careful with using a step if you have knee or hip problems. Dancing The reason dancing is recommended because you can control the moves and make it as gentle on your body as you need to. Plus, dancing is a good workout and a lot of fun. You can just turn on some music and dance right there in your living room, only moving the parts of your body not currently in pain. This is something you can do on your own or with your family. Stretches For Leg and Ankle Injuries If you have an injury to your ankle or leg, stretches are really important. This keeps the joint stretched out and moving so that it can heal better. Here are some stretches to try out. Heel Cord Stretch A great stretch that works on your ankle after you have sprained it is the heel cord stretch. You will feel this stretch not only in your heel but your calf as well, which is often affected by an ankle injury. For this type of stretch, you need to stand up, so you should wait to do the stretch until you can bear weight on that foot. Start by standing in front of a wall with the injured leg behind you with the heel flat on the ground. Press your hips toward the wall to gentle stretch the back of the ankle, and your calf with your toes pointed up a little bit to really work on the stretch. Seated Ankle Stretches There are a few different stretches you can do while sitting, which are good when standing is a little too difficult for you. Sit somewhere comfortable and try moving your ankle in different ways until you feel it stretch. Make sure you don’t move it around too much to where it causes pain. Try pointing your toes and putting your foot up, where you feel a stretch behind the back of the ankle. You can also try pointing the ankle down and inward for an inverted ankle stretch. Roll a Ball Under Your Foot If your foot or ankle injury is related to your plantar fascia, using a ball to roll under your foot can be helpful. You just need a small ball like a golf ball or the equivalent of that. Sit down on a chair or the edge of a couch, and place the ball on the floor in front of you. Put your foot on top of the ball, pointing your foot down and arching it slightly. Now roll it back and forth on the floor beneath your foot. Do this for a couple of minutes, and it should start to stretch out the ligament. You can also try talking to your doctor for recommendations on other stretches you can do. Just make sure your ankle is not currently in a lot of pain or still swollen, or those stretches are not going to be useful. Why Yoga is So Beneficial Yoga is one of the tops recommended workouts after you have an injury because it is easy on your body and it really helps to strengthen and tone your body. The flexibility you get from yoga can also help to improve the range of motion in your injured extremity. Take a look at the different ways yoga can be beneficial after an injury. Injury: Back Back issues are probably the most common injury we see in yoga—people come in with slipped discs, they're recovering from surgeries, pulls, you name it. If you have a slipped or herniated disc, it's important to consult with your physical therapist to find out which direction the disc is moving. Depending on their answer, either flexion or extension will aggravate the injury. Steer clear of jumping and extreme backbends. Instead, step forward and back, and take softer backbends (as long as they don’t aggravate your injury). Work on more hip openers to give your extra backspace as it heals. Be sure to incorporate more full-core poses into your practice, too, like plank and forearm plank variations. Injury: Ankle When you have an injured ankle—rolled, sprained, or anything else—single-leg balancing poses will be challenging, as will some of the warrior poses and jump backs. Avoid jump backs and jump forwards all together, and instead, step—the lighter impact is always better with injuries. For single-leg standing poses, either place your hand on a wall for balance (that will take the pressure off the joint) or skip them all together until you are stronger. Depending on the severity of your injury, simple sun salutations and two-legged standing series should be good. With ankle injuries, seated postures are your friends. However, be sure to have proper ankle alignment in hip openers—no sickening. Ask your instructor if you have any discomfort. Injury: Wrist This is a tough one in yoga, but not completely unmanageable. If your injury isn’t too severe, you can try to do four-limbed poses on your fists or your fingertips. But steer clear of arm balances and inversions while your wrist is not 100 percent. Take boat poses and boat pose variations to work your core rather than planks or other four-limbed yoga abs. Fill your practice with standing series, and take locust, bow, bridge, and camel for backbends, rather than wheels. If you want to make sure you're still getting your arm workout in, do forearm planks, and dolphin pushups. Injury: Knee Be cautious in single-leg standing poses, jumping, and hip openers, as you would with an ankle injury. Be sure to consult with your instructor on proper knee alignment of the poses, as this is crucial for you. Avoid single-leg side lunges, and use your hands and blocks to support your body when moving into single-leg balances like a half moon. Injury: Neck Have you ever woken up to a neck that had a “crick” or simply didn’t want to move in a particular direction? Ouch! And, why?! The good news is, if you leave it alone, it will probably go away on its own. But, you need to be careful not to aggravate it! When your neck is bothering you, skip headstands, shoulder stands, and any neck positions in poses that don’t feel good. Certain poses can be easily modified for more comfort: In triangle pose, look down instead of looking up. If any given pose's “gaze” point is bothering you, change where you are looking. Swimming Can Help Most Injuries If there is one exercise that everyone can do regardless of their injury, it is swimming. The pool allows you to be weightless so that no pressure or weight is being put on your injured joints. From arthritis to sprains and sore backs, swimming is great for everyone when you want a good workout. There is No Stress on Your Joints The main reason swimming is recommended for people with physical injuries is that your joints, tendons, and tissues all get a nice break. Even with your feet touching the ground of your pool, the majority of your weight is being supported by the water. This can be a breath of fresh air when suddenly you feel light and can move your body around without experiencing severe pain. It helps with everything from neck and shoulder pain, to ankle sprains and knee injuries. Give swimming a try and see how easy it is to burn calories without being uncomfortable. It is Easy to Create Your Own Workout Another great thing about swimming as an exercise when you have an injury is that you can easily create your own workout. Perhaps you want to use your own swimming pool right in your backyard, so you don’t have the benefit of following along with a class. All you need to do is keep moving your body around and keep your heart rate up, and it will provide a good workout. You can stand and just move your arms and core, or you can try swimming laps back and forth. Just do what feels comfortable, only increasing your speed and intensity when you feel like you can do so without causing any extra pain. You Can Take a Water Aerobics Class If you do happen to have a rec center or gym near you with a pool, you can inquire about the classes they offer. Most gyms with pools will offer some sort of water aerobics class where you are basically doing aerobics from the swimming pool. This is much easier on your body, especially your ankles and knees, while also doing aerobics. It is a good full-body workout that can also be refreshing when you are exercising on a hot day. Try out workouts in a swimming pool, and you may never want to stop. It is easy on your body and great for when you have injuries. Seated Workouts You Should Try There are a lot of injuries that keep you from working out properly, but sometimes it is just a matter of changing the type of exercises you do. If you injure your back, foot, ankle, or knee, standing might be a little difficult. In this case, try switching to seated workouts. Use a Resistance Band One option for a seated workout you can do is to use a resistance band. Choose one of the lighter weight resistance bands and attach it underneath your chair or wherever you are sitting. By doing this, you can use resistance to get a good upper body workout. You can use it for bicep curls, chest presses, and some other exercises. This is also great when you don’t want to use dumbbells and just have the resistance band nearby. Try Leg Workouts There are also some leg workouts you can do while sitting in a chair. Many of these can even be done if you are suffering from an ankle, foot, or knee injury since your weight is putting pressure on those joints. One type of leg workout you can try out in a chair is a lift and twist. You want to do an ordinary leg lift where you lift one leg straight out, then twist your upper body the opposite way. This is going to work on your abs as well as your thighs at the same time. A simpler workout you can try is a simple leg extension. You just need to sit on your chair and extend one leg out, hold it for a few seconds, then put it back down. This is helping to stretch out the leg while holding it really works on those muscles. Do Chair Dips Chair dips aren’t necessarily seated workouts, but they work your triceps and shoulders with a chair. If you are still recovering from an ankle injury, this is good to do because it only takes a few minutes and all you need is a chair. Plus, you aren’t using your ankles too much. If your ankle starts to hurt, make sure all the weight is being put on your arms and shoulders, which is what you are trying to work on. You just need to sit on the edge of a chair with your palms on the seat, and dip down, then back up.