Workout injuries happen. Sometimes you push yourself too hard or you tackle a workout move incorrectly. Either way, it can land you in the doctor’s office. But that doesn’t mean you should stop working out. It just means that you have to get smart and creative about it. Here are four of the best ways to work around an exercise injury.
1. If you have back pain
If you’re into lifting weights, tennis, or running, you may be at risk for a back injury. Back pain may also be caused by “muscular strains, arthritis, soft-tissue injuries, and disc disease,” according to Prevention. Back injuries are among the most common exercise ailments. If you’ve recently sustained a back injury, avoid any overhead lifting, including lateral pulls, doing leg presses (using the machine), running downhill, and anything else you feel is aggravating the pain. You’re not a superhero and definitely aren’t impervious to injury. In the same Prevention story, board certified physiatrist Dr. Kimberly Safman said to try “walking, stretching, protected ab exercises, swimming, recumbent bike, yoga and Pilates.” Additionally, she advised wearing the appropriate shoes for the sport you choose to minimize any back pain.
2. If you injured your knee
Though it may sound completely counter-intuitive, Women’s Health said exercise may be the key to chronically achy knees. Knee injuries often occur while you’re working out, participating in other recreational activities, during sports, home repair projects, and any work-related tasks. The knee, which is the largest joint of the body, is composed of two discs that connect the upper and the lower bones of the knee, with plenty of ligaments, muscles, and tendons. The cartilage around this area helps to absorb shock. When any one of those pieces is compromised, you suffer an injury.
From tears, to strains and sprains, depending upon the severity of the injury, you may be able to work around it. Dr. Willibald Nagler told Prevention, “Strengthening the muscles around the joint protects you from injury by decreasing stress on the knee.” When working out to prevent, or if you’ve already sustained an injury, proper form is key. That means you need to keep your knees in mind when doing everything from lunges to squats.
Prevention recommended trying partial squats: First, make sure you have use of a sturdy chair or bench. Start by standing about one foot away from the front of the chair with your feet spaced hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Slowly lower yourself until you’re halfway down the chair, bending at the hips. Make sure to keep your core tight and be aware of your knee position. Do 10 to 12 reps of each.
3. If you hurt your ankle
WebMD explained a sprain, one of the most common ankle injuries, occurs when the ligaments stretch too far. Some unlucky folks will even suffer a fracture, otherwise known as a broken bone.These injuries can both be caused by walking on an uneven surface or stepping awkwardly in a pair of heels.
While some of these ankle injuries may be more severe and painful than others, you may be out of commission for a bit. In the meantime, utilize the RICE Method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). If it’s really bad, make sure to see your doctor. You may need a splint or even crutches.
In the future, prevent ankle injuries by trying pedal pushers. Women’s Health outlined this exercise. Start by sitting with both of your legs in front of you, and wrap a resistance band around the ball of one foot. Holding both ends of the band tightly, push your foot down and away. Hold your foot in that position briefly before repeating. After your desired number of reps, repeat on the other side.
4. If you have shin splints
This injury can be one of the more nagging and annoying injuries you can sustain. In most cases, the painful sensation often comes from running too much too soon, according to Runner’s World. Underlying conditions like flat feet are sometimes to blame. If you find yourself in serious pain, don’t just brush it off, though. The same Runner’s World story said it may be a stress fracture.
If you’re familiar with this type of pain, you may need to decrease the intensity of your workout routine. If you run regularly, try increasing your mileage gradually each week. Your shins will thank you.