The sun is finally starting to shine through (here in Michigan), and summer is finally here! The lack of vitamin D during the colder months may have reduced your ambitions to stay on your workout program and shot your ability to reduce your food cravings. Well now is the time to get back after it before summer comes. In order to shed body fat while maintaining and even build muscle, you need to have a […]
I wrote this a while back for Healthy & Fit Magazine. I decided to re-post it since I have been hearing that people are scared to workout while being injured. In my opinion, there is always a way to train around injuries. With the correct techniques it can be done.
Having aches and pains, or getting an injury eventually happens to all of us. It doesn’t matter if it comes from working out, a sport, an activity, or just from daily habits. We all will have to learn how to deal with them. When most people get injured they get very discouraged and discontinue their current workout regimen. This is a common roadblock but believe me, it is one that can be busted through!
This has an affect on people’s confidence and they think that they can’t do anything physical until their injury clears up. Depending on the situation, being sedentary is the worst thing you can do.
Cautiously, you need to continue to stay active in order to keep the rest of your body strong, resilient, and improve the recovery process when your injury heals up. Here are five common injuries, and how you can train around them. Make sure to check with your doctor before embarking on a fitness program if you have one of these injuries.
Injured Shoulder or Rotator Cuff
The shoulders seem to be involved in so many exercises that when someone has shoulder pain or injury, it is very discouraging to keep exercising. I don’t blame them. A bum shoulder can really bother you just in day-to-day events, mostly due to us sitting too much with poor posture. That is a sure sign that you need to keep your upper-back, core, and lower-body strong. I have had clients both stop working out and keep working out during a shoulder injury, and the clients who keep working on their core, upper-back, and leg strength recover much faster from the surgery or physical therapy than the one’s who decide not to keep up their fitness.
The basic rule of thumb is if a certain movement hurts at a pain of 4 and above (1 being no pain, 10 being unbearable pain) just don’t do it. The opposite of Nike’s slogan! Avoid push-ups, bench press, overhead pressing, and other upper-body pushing movements to salvage your shoulder. Focus on horizontal rowing such as cable rows, dumbbell rows, and TRX Strap rows to focus on keeping the upper-back strong, which will also help improve your posture. In addition, perform tons of core and lower-body work, and pick exercises that don’t bother your shoulder.
There are tons of variations of knee pain and injury such as torn meniscus, patellar femoral syndrome (front knee pain), and torn ACL or MCL’s, so their will be a large variance of what someone can do. If you are post-operation, your wait time before starting to workout will vary, so make sure to check with your doctor.
For a general rule, most stable upper-body and core exercises should be fine to do. I have worked with many clients that had ACL surgery, and once they are cleared to workout (about 8-12 weeks into therapy), they can do almost everything a person with healthy knees can do. Keeping up your glute and core strength is key. If you keep the hip and core area strong, it will improve the stability of your knee so much, that it will make the recovery process much smoother.
Exercises like hip lifts, planks, and upper-back exercises will help keep your posture in balance, and your hip and core muscles from becoming atrophied (your muscles basically shrinking and not working). Ovoid single leg work on the injured knee (lunges, single leg squats), and focus on bilateral exercises such as bodyweight squats and stability ball leg curls after the doctor clears you to work your lower-body. And most of all, continue foam rolling and stretching to decrease scar tissue build up, which will keep muscle tissue healthy and flexible.
Wrist Pain, Elbow Pain, Tennis Elbow and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It is unbelievable to me how many people don’t workout while they have various wrist and elbow pain. Yes, you do need to rest to reduce the inflammation build up, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop doing your interval cardio workout, and strength train your lower-body!
Basically, just avoid any upper-body movements that bother that area. Go through your physical therapy (if prescribed), and then if you really want to strengthen that area and prevent future pain and injury, start using kettlebells and ropes in your training.
Performing various kettlebell work and using the battling ropes is the best way to strengthen the surrounding muscles of your wrist and elbow. The stronger they get, the more resistant to injury they will become.
In summary: bells and ropes are king! Also, make sure you keep good posture when you sit down, keep your upper-back and shoulders strong so you reduce compensation patterns when you play tennis, golf, or are on the computer.
If you ask 10 people if they have ever had some type of low-back pain, 9 people will say yes. Our sedentary lifestyle of sitting too much has caused an epidemic of back pain. To avoid and help this issue, here is what you need to do.
First, buy a foam roller. The healthier your muscle tissue is, especially in the hip area, the less tension you will cause to the low back. Foam roll your IT bands, glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings daily. Then, stretch your hip flexors, hip rotators (think glutes), and hamstrings dynamically.
After that you have to focus on mobility of your hips. My favorite way to do this is squatting. Yes, they best way to increase your hip mobility is to learn how to squat correctly and deep in three planes of motion. You will be surprised on how well this works. Then it is on to the core and I don’t mean sit-ups and crunches. Performing a bunch of crunches and sit-ups will only compress the lumbar spine discs more, and really cause some pain to the low back. Instead, focus on getting your glutes as strong as possible, and perfect planking, farmers walks, dynamic core stability exercises and stability ball rollouts should round out your training program.
Having the bottoms of your feet hurt can be one of the most nagging injuries of all. With every step that you feel pain, it is a reminder that something is wrong. I feel that this is one of the most avoidable injuries of all.
Poor footwear is the main issue here. We put ourselves in such stable shoes that our foot muscles don’t need to work as hard, causing them to become weak and tight. We also don’t do enough exercise for our feet. Having minimalist shoes, and performing single leg exercises and balance work with help improve your proprioception and strength of your feet.
Please don’t give me the “flat feet” excuse. You can get stronger and more flexible in your feet regardless if you have flat feet or high arches. Make sure you also massage and stretch your feet and lower legs. A method I would recommend would be to take a tennis ball, golf ball, or frozen soda bottle, and massage your foot daily. With this injury you should be able to do almost any exercise EXCEPT running or jumping, until the injury is completely healed.