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A happier, healthier you

Ask the Coaches: How can I stay in shape with an injury?

by Yes Health

In a word, being injured–whether it’s a sprained ankle, sensitive low back or bum knee — sucks. Besides the pain and limited mobility, waiting to heal from an injury can feel isolating and frustrating, especially if it’s putting your health goals on hold.  

The good news is, with your doctor’s permission and some modifications specific to your injury, you don’t have to give up your commitment to fitness. Here are six tips from the Yes Health coaches to help keep you in shape while you recuperate: 

  • Talk to an expert. After you get the okay from your doctor, work with a knowledgeable personal trainer or physical therapist to determine the safest and most effective exercises for your body. The Yes Health coaches can also offer exercise suggestions and and well-being tips to keep you healthy physically and mentally.
  • Be patient. Remember, the goal is to build up your strength and confidence–not exacerbate your injury. Take this as an opportunity to focus on gentler types of activities that you may not have done before, such as restorative yoga, stretching, walking and meditation.
  • Start slow. Generally speaking, you’ll need to dial things back a bit from wherever you left off. For example, if you were running 5 miles a day, try a combination of running and walking 2 miles–or just walking if your body needs more time to rest. If you were doing weighted squats, switch to bodyweight squats and see how you feel. In general, starting back with bodyweight movements instead of weighted ones is a good rule of thumb. 
  • Make nutrition a priority.  If you were exercising a lot before your injury, your caloric needs are slightly lower now, so some adjustments are probably in order. Also, to help you heal, make sure you’re getting enough protein, eating lots of leafy greens and drinking plenty of water.
  • Go low and slow. When coming back from a lower body injury, focus on low impact exercises. A few to try include deadlifts, leg ball tosses and hamstring curls. Once you’re feeling better, you can add low-impact activities like swimming, slow jogging and bodyweight strength training. 
  • Strengthen your core. Low back injuries are common, and having a strong core can help support your back muscles so you heal faster and prevent future injuries. Doing full or half planks (the variation on your knees), side planks and bodyweight squats are a great place to start. Supermans and lying pull ups are also helpful for alleviating low-back tension. (Ask the Yes Health coaches for video demonstrations and additional tips.)

While you may not have as many exercise options as before your injury, it’s important not to limit yourself further by parking yourself on the couch. Start with some light stretches when you get out of bed each morning and make a commitment to keep your body moving in ways that feel good to you. You’ll be back to your old exercise routine before you know it.

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