Should You Exercise with an Injury?

Injuries – they happen to the best of us. If you’re exercising daily, chances are you’ll suffer an injury eventually. But just because you’re stuck on the couch with a bum knee doesn’t mean you need to abstain from exercise altogether. Whether an injury is as minor as a strained muscle, or something more serious, like a torn ligament, you don’t have to become completely immobile. The decision to continue exercising is up to you and your doctor and only requires a little planning and common sense.

When it comes to exercise-related injuries, your first step is always to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Exercising with chronic pain is a recipe for disaster and may turn a temporary problem into a permanent one. Once you visit your doctor, talk to him or her about how to work around your injury. Below are some ideas to run by your doctor so you won’t lose all the strength gains you’ve worked so hard for.

1. Don’t do any activity that will aggravate your injury

If you have a knee or foot injury you may not be able to run or ride your bike, but there’s probably no reason you can’t continue exercising your upper body. Your focus should be on modifying your workout so that you perform the exercises while seated or laying down so as not to put pressure on the injured joint or muscle. If you have an upper body injury, such as your shoulder or elbow, why not concentrate on lower body exercises? Ask your doctor about continuing a resistance program that avoids further injury.

2. If it hurts, don’t do it

This seems simple, but a lot of people tend to exercise even when their body is telling them to stop. Even if you’re following an exercise plan recommended by your doctor, if you feel any pain in the joints or anywhere else, stop. You may be able to move on to a different exercise that doesn’t hurt, or you may have to stop altogether. Either way, learning to listen to your body is key to staying injury- and pain-free.

3. Follow your doctor’s advice

Ask your doctor for a list of activities you can do to stay active without injuring yourself further. He or she may be able to recommend a physical therapist to help you determine what exercises you can do to both heal your injury and strengthen the rest of your body.

4. Prevent injuries before they happen

Obviously, prevention is the best choice when it comes to injuries. One simple way is to maintain flexibility and balance. Tight muscles can cause imbalances in your body that could lead to injuries. For example, if your quadriceps (muscles in the front of your thighs) are stronger than your hamstrings (the muscles in the back), you risk a strain or even a rupture of your hamstrings. Another way to prevent injuries is to avoid overtraining. When your muscles are tired, they do a poor job of protecting their associated connective tissues, increasing the risk of damage to bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. To fortify yourself even more against injuries, make sure you incorporate regular weight training into your weekly routine. Strengthening ALLof your muscle groups will reduce any muscle imbalances that may cause other muscles of your body to overcompensate for that weakness.

Always exercise with caution. But if you need some help on the road to recovery, Bauman Chiropractic is here for you!

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