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What exercises can I do if I have a lower body injury?

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Updated November 25, 2009

Question: What exercises can I do if I have a lower body injury?
Answer: It shouldn't surprise you when I say your first source of information about any injuries should be your doctor and/or physical therapist. Depending on the injury, you may need to rest, do physical therapy exercises to heal the injury or both. If you do have a lower body injury, get as much information as possible about what you can and can't do.

First, 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. 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. These are quite pricey if you're looking for a home model, but you may be able to use a portable mini-cycle if budget is an issue and if you can't do anything with your lower body for awhile.
  • 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.

More Resources About Injuries

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