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How to stay in shape with an injury

An injury can be a tough setback for anyone. The most important thing to remember is to not let an injury stop you from staying fit. In fact, the healthier you are in mind, body and spirit, the easier it may be to bounce back from an injury.

“Our bodies are designed to move,” says Colleen Alrutz, health and fitness manager at Piedmont Newnan. “The worst thing you can do for your body, with or without an injury, is be sedentary. In fact, studies show that the highest co-morbidity rate is among those who are sedentary.”

If you have been injured and are looking for ways to keep moving, Alrutz recommends the following tips:

  1. Hire a qualified trainer who has the expertise and knowledge to guide you in exercises that will make you strong without putting added stress on your injury.
  2. Ask your physician when it will be safe to return to your regular exercise routine or sport. Returning too soon can set you back even further.
  3. Ensure you are getting proper nutrition. Eating well-balanced meals helps the body heal faster.
  4. Listen to your body; it is a great indicator of your strength and stamina.

Try a new exercise

“When you have sustained an injury, it is a great time to change up your exercise routine and try something new. Think outside of the box. Work on a different area of your body,” suggests Alrutz.

If you have a knee, foot or leg injury, focus on:

  • Upper body. Rowing machines are a great way to strengthen your arms and back. Swimming laps with a buoy between your legs is also great for upper body and core strength.
  • Quadriceps. Recumbent bikes target the quads and do not put pressure on your knees. Pool running is low-impact and can help keep you in shape without the extra stress on your joints.
  • Abs. Sit ups and crunches help build strength in your core, which is great for full body strengthening.
  • Arms. Using hand weights help build biceps, triceps and back muscles.

If you have a shoulder or arm injury, emphasize:

  • Lower body. Walking, running, swimming while holding onto a board, using the elliptical machine, etc. are all ways to get your heart rate up with little impact to your upper body injury.
  • Abs. Sit-ups and crunches are a great way to strengthen your core.

If you have a back injury focus on:

  • Arms. Hand weights can be used while sitting so there is less pressure or aggravation on the spine.
  • Calves. Weight machines that focus on your calf muscles without straining your back are ideal. Simple calf raises also help keep your legs in shape.
  • Quads. Any machine that allows you to sit in the recumbent position takes pressure off your back.

Alrutz says the key is to keep moving. She believes recovery and staying fit is a mindset. Once you are determined to stay fit and overcome your injury, it is easier to stay active. In fact, she references studies that have shown that you will not lose your current fitness level if you exercise at 70 percent of your maximum capacity at least once a week.  

“Bottom line: an injury shouldn’t sideline you from any activity, but it is important to consult your doctor or physical therapist to help guide your exercise routine. There are so many alternatives to explore,” Alrutz says.

For more helpful, healthful tips, click here

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