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Too Injured to Exercise? Guess Again!

You are injured.  You have a sprained ankle, a meniscus tear, chronic shoulder pain, bursitis of the hip.  You are hurting and frustrated because you can’t do what you want to do.  So what DO you do? I will tell you NOT to do…do NOT do nothing!!!!

Now don’t roll your eyes thinking, “Well, of course a trainer would say that!” I am not saying what you can do should be earth shattering or record breaking, all I am saying is there are options. You just have to set your ego aside and keep your eyes and mind open. Unless you are bed-ridden with doctor’s orders and/or not released yet after surgery to engage in ANY activity, then you better figure out something to keep your body in motion as much as you can with what you’ve got to work with. Your body is made to move. It uses its muscles to withstand the force of gravity 24/7 and its organs serve those muscles to keep you mobile and moving. You stop moving and your systems can’t work as well. Systemic standstill.

I have worked with a lot of clients that have benched themselves 100% due to an injury. I mean, they just shut down and call it a day.  They are understandably upset.  “I can’t do anything!” rolls off their tongues as they throw their arms around in frustration. Really?  You can’t do anything?  You have a bum knee but you certainly have some arms to work with!  Let’s get you on a crank cycle. Let’s get you doing whatever resistance training that doesn’t aggravate your injury. Let’s bet creative! I say this with all my love and care for them, not just to be a pain in their rear ends!

Rudy Garcia-Tolson was born with a club foot, webbed fingers, cleft lip and palate and the inability to straighten his legs. Surgery after surgery, doctors tried to straighten his legs so he could move just like the other kids. He got fed up and asked for his legs to be amputated. He wanted less to work with so he can do more. He is now a professional triathlete and an icon for what one can do when they let go of what isn’t working and keep an open mind to other paths and options. Here’s another great example—my friend recently underwent a series of chemotherapy sessions for breast cancer and now she just had a mastectomy. She has been through a lot, the pain and sickness of her process, the poison going through her system to beat this awful disease and, guess what?  She has not stopped moving! Feeling horrible and all, she still rides her bike regularly, not at the same level of intensity she used to, but she turns those pedals.  She is focusing on what she can do and she is inspiring a whole community of people in the process!

I will say that a great catch-all activity to do when injured is to get yourself worked out in a pool. I personally hate swimming (I have horrible form so I feel like I am battling drowning the entire time) so what I do when I am injured is deep water running.  I have ran for hours in the pool at a time, have done numerous interval training sessions and have tread water until I was sucking wind (that doesn’t take long!).  Stress fracture in my pubic bone?  I could barely walk and I was in excruciating pain for 10 weeks, but my body found some freedom when I focused on pursuing what I could do. Upper body (seated) weight training kept me strong as well.

I would never belittle the pain and frustration one goes through with an injury for physical limitation.  I know it can become quite an obstacle in fully participating in life.  I understand that 100%.  However I also know that benching oneself is never the answer.  Not once have I seen that benefit anyone.  For those of you reading this post who are injured or have a physical limitation, I challenge you to come up with 3-5 activities you can do (remember, it doesn’t have to be a stellar performance!), kick that bench out from underneath you, strap on a positive attitude, and enjoy moving!

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