Working Around Injuries

My breath was steady, my gait was strong. I felt focused, empowered, and determined to finish my 16.5 mile run. The rural scenery calmed my mind as I focused on one thing: placing one foot in front of the other for the next two hours. I felt alive.

Fifteen miles down, and snap. A jabbing pain began to repetitively stab the bottom of my mid-sole. Jab. Step. Jab. Step. I loosened my shoe laces. Jab. Step. Jab. One mile left, and there was no stopping me. I removed my shoes, and finished the last 10 minutes barefoot, running on the smoothness of the road’s painted lines.

That night, and the next three days, I couldn’t put weight on my left foot. I had torn a tendon, which put a halt to my perfect, injury free marathon training program.

Unfortunately, injuries happen to all of us. Whether you are training for a marathon, lifting weights, or simply going about your daily life, injuries occur and can potentially wreak havoc on your healthy habits. The best way to handle the stress of being injured is to get creative and work around your ailments.

Nutrition can become the number one focus for all injured cases. Injuries limit the number of calories that can get expended during a work out, therefore, one way to continue towards your health goals is to focus on the calories you consume. Use the time you may have spent working out to develop a perfect eating program that will help heal and support your body. Make sure this plan is definitive and easy to follow. Put in the effort to follow your plan, and I promise, your body will thank you in the end!

Another way to prevent injuries from derailing your success is to create workouts around what bothers you. For example, my friend Katie scooters around the gym with her foot in a cast and manages to do upper body and core exercises. Similarly, another client still attends three sessions a week with hand, wrist, and sterno-clavicular joint dysfunction and focuses on lower body, core, and mobility exercises.

Lower Body Injuries:

Cardio:

Ask your doctor whether you are allowed low impact, lower body activities like the bike or elliptical. If not, use the arm cycle machine. It is a great way to tone your upper body, increase your heart rate, and break a sweat.

Lifting:

Avoid high impact exercises. Use mini bands for side lying clam shells and bridges for lower body. If your hips and/or knees are compromised, avoid lower body exercises until your condition improves.

Upper body and core circuits are great ways to maintain your physique. I usually follow the same circuit outline: 2 pulls, 1 push, 1 core stability, 1 core mobility, 1 times interval. For example, Monday I did 15 narrow grip pull ups, 15 narrow grip seated rows, 15 bench presses w/ leg raises, dead bugs w/ 15 alternating leg and arm reaches, 15 torso rotations, and 1 minute plank from knees. I repeated this circuit 3 times.

Upper Body Injuries:

Cardio:

Most cardio machines are tailored to lower body exercising. Avoid using ellipticals that have arm attachments, rowing machines, and swinging your arms while walking.

Lifting:

Lower body circuits are an amazing way to stay toned and burn calories. Again, I prefer circuit training to maximize the efficiency of my workouts. I usually follow a similar outline: 1 bilateral hip extension, 1 unilateral hip extension, 1 lateral movement, 1 transverse movement, 1 minute of a times interval. For example, 15 squats, 15 single leg dead lifts, 15 side lunges, 15 transverse or pivoting lunges, 1 minute of squat jumps.

Be careful with loading schemes when you have an upper body injury. Avoid using dumbbells or barbells to weight your lower body. Instead, perform more repetitions or sets of the circuits. This will prevent placing extra stress on your injury.

Lower back:

Cardio:

If you have an acute lower back injury, the recumbent bike will be the safest cardio option.

Lifting:

The lower back often stabilizes the core. When your core is not stable, lifting can be very dangerous. You can lift on any seated machine that has a back support. Seated leg presses, knee flexion and extensions, chest presses, shoulder presses, and rows usually have back supports. You also want to avoid any flexion of the spine, meaning no crunches!! In order to keep your core strong, work on the floor to support your back and do various dead bug variations.

Don’t let injuries prevent you from reaching and maintaining your fitness goals. There are always ways to work around dysfunction. If you need help brainstorming more ideas, feel free to email me at emilykovalfitness@gmail.com

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