Working Out With a Lower Body Injury

Woman in bed with broken leg
Getty Images/Julian James Ward

Lower body injuries are among the most frustrating, especially for exercisers.  Almost every cardio activity we do usually involves the lower body and taking one limb away may make you feel like your entire exercise program is down the tubes.

That's not necessarily the case.  Your doctor is your first and best source of information but, speaking broadly, there are probably a number of ways you can work around your injury and stay in shape, even while it heals.

Talking To Your Doctor

Before you do anything, you know you need to see your doctor and get a diagnosis.  What's important here is to let your doctor know how important exercise is to you and that you want to do everything you can to stay safe while still being active. Then, you may want to ask some specific questions as well:

  • How long can I expect to be away from my usual exercise routine?
  • Are there specific exercises or activities I should avoid?
  • Are there specific exercises I can do to help heal my injury?
  • If I can't use my lower body at all, can I focus on upper body training without aggravating my injury?
  • When can I start exercising again and how should I ease into my routine so I don't hurt myself again?

The more information you have, the more control you'll have over your injury and what you need to heal it. It also helps to create a plan to get through the process, especially if you're a regular exerciser who's been sidelined by your injury.

Getting Around Your Injury

Not being able to exercise can be frustrating and can leave you feeling depressed and worried about losing strength and gaining weight. But, finding a way to do some type of activity can go a long way towards having a better attitude about your situation. As mentioned above, you should always check with your doctor about what to do, but some ideas for activities might include:

  • Upper body training. Upper body workouts can help keep your muscles strong and give you something to do while your lower body gets its act together. You may need to modify some exercises so they don't involve the lower body.
  • Cycle with your arms. If you're a member of a gym, you may have access to an upper body ergometer which is essentially hand-cycling.  Since that's probably not an option for most of us, you can find affordable versions at Amazon.
  • Swimming. Depending on your situation (and doctor's orders), you may be able to swim, which is a great way to work your body without pressure on the joints.
  • Seated Exercise. You may be able to do light training with your lower body from a seated position (with your doctor's okay) and you can even find seated exercise videos as well. They may not offer the intensity of your usual workouts, but they can get you moving.

The point is to do anything, even if it feels like it's not even close to what you normally do.  I had one client who broke her leg and we did all seated and lying down exercises.

  For her, it was just what she needed to get through the very long healing process.

Staying active will not only keep your mind occupied, it'll keep your body as fit as you can while you heal.

More Resources About Injuries

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