What Types of Exercises Are Suitable After an Injury

You injured yourself in an accident or while playing sports, and you are now forced to slow down as you heal. It’s difficult to move, and you feel pain or stiffness all over. You are probably frustrated by the lack of mobility and wonder when things will get back to normal.

You don’t have to go through that! 

Although you are not ready for strenuous physical activity, there are safe exercises you can do that will get you off that couch, bed, or wheelchair faster. 

While some people may feel, exercising after an injury is wrong, it’s actually not. As long as you work out safely and perform exercises that are unlikely to worsen your condition, exercise is good after an injury. It provides the following benefits.

  • Reduces pain
  • Speeds up recovery
  • Boosts your mood
  • Builds your endurance
  • Strengthens weak muscles and joints
  • Increases blood flow to injured areas, and;
  • Improves flexibility and balance.

10 exercises you can use to recover from an injury

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The benefits of exercise should motivate you to work out after an injury. If you are active, you probably used to engage in some form of exercise before your injury. Although you’ll find it hard to do some of those workouts, there are others you can modify to encourage healing.  

Start by moderately exercising for short periods and gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts as you get stronger. Here are a few you can try.

1. Swimming

Swimming pools and baths are often used by physiotherapists to guide patients through low-impact exercises. 

Water is a great place to exercise because it cushions your body against further injury and improves cardiovascular health. 

The effort of pushing your limbs through the water as you exercise strengthens weak muscles too. Some exercises you can perform in water include aqua jogging, water arm lifts and sidestepping.

2. Stationary bike 

If you are locked indoors, explore stationary bike riding to help you recover from injury. It’s a cardio workout that’s ideal for people dealing with upper-body injuries. 

You don’t have to cycle at high speeds; gently riding your stationary bike will improve joint mobility, increase circulation, and strengthen your limbs. With time you can increase the intensity as you recover.

3. Walking

Walking is a great place to start when easing your body back to exercise after an injury. If you are tired of convalescing indoors, it gives you an excuse to go outside and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.  

The cardiovascular benefits of walking will boost your circulation and improve your mood. It will also help you to strengthen weak muscles. 

Start by taking short, gentle walks within the home and gradually move outdoors where you can lengthen or speed them up as you recover. Within no time, you’ll be brisk walking.

4. Lifting lightweights

Weights and injury recovery should probably not be in the same sentence. However, they are because weight lifting doesn’t only refer to lifting heavyweights. 

You can use light weights or kettlebells to strengthen your muscles, burn calories, and engage in cardiovascular workouts when dealing with almost any kind of injury. There are even exercises for brain injury recovery

Some simple workouts you should try using light weights are bicep curls and dumbbell upright rows.

5. Seated workout routines

If you are using manual wheelchairs due to an injury, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. What determines the types of workouts you can perform is the part of your body that’s injured. 

There are complete sitting circuit exercises you can engage in to strengthen yourself. Some examples of exercises you can include in such a circuit are chest squeezes with medicine balls, knee-ups, toe taps, and side bend stretches.

6. Hand exercises

You can injure your hand when you overwork parts of it (as in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome) or in an accident, among other unforeseen circumstances.

Hand injuries limit your ability to perform many tasks, and exercising as soon as you can will help you get back to your active lifestyle. 

The best therapeutic hand exercises are those that improve your hand mobility and build grip strength. 

Weightlifting is out of the question, but simple workouts such as wrist extensions and isometric hooks can make a big difference in your healing process.

7. Bed workouts

Lying in bed after an injury without any movement comes with challenges such as depression, muscle atrophy and bed sores. 

If you are bedridden, you can lighten things up, strengthen yourself, boost circulation, and quicken recovery by performing bed exercises. 

They are typically short workouts such as neck exercises that will take you only five repetitions to complete. Some examples are slow knee bends, lying arm lifts, and side rolls.

8. Stretches

A part of recovering from an injury is muscle tightness and stiffness. It often occurs when we get too sedentary during the healing process. Performing stretching exercises can help you loosen up and ease your discomfort. 

However, performing stretches less than 24 hours after an injury is not recommended. In fact, wait at least 10 -14 days after your injury before you start.

Some stretching techniques you can implement are passive and static stretches. A physiotherapist can tell you which of the two to use for your injury recovery and when.

9. Isometrics

Sometimes moving your body after an injury takes too much effort, but you can still contract some of your muscles. In such cases, you may use isometrics to strengthen them.

Isometrics is the contraction of muscles without lengthening or shortening them. A good example is planks.

You can combine isometrics with exercising aids such as resistance bands if you are strong enough to use them. However, doing them on their own is enough to improve circulation and rebuild your strength.

10. Yoga

Tension can keep you from healing properly. A gentle way to release it from your body is by doing Yoga. 

While there are complicated sequences of Yoga, starting with a simple array of poses can energize you and improve your range of movement. 

It’s ideal for pain management, joint strengthening, and correcting bad posture. You’ll need a yoga instructor to help you perform the right Yoga poses for injury recovery. Avoid doing Yoga on your own until you learn the right way to hold different poses.

Factors that determine the type of exercise you choose after injury

As you can see, recovering from an injury cannot prevent you from engaging in some form of physical activity. If you are unsure about when to start, here are some factors that will help you make the right decision.

  1. Type of injury

The type of injury you suffer will limit your exercise choices during recovery. For example, if you’ve hurt your hand, rehabilitative exercises such as tension gliding and using a grip strengthening ball are better for your hands than say pushups which will put a strain on them. 

And of course, if your knees are injured, nobody expects you to start jogging before you heal completely, swimming may be a better option. Therefore, let your injury determine your exercise of choice to avoid worsening it.

  1. Cause of your injury

If the cause of your injury is related to something you did wrong physically, workouts that teach you how to do it correctly will prevent the same situation from happening in the future. 

For instance, if your back injury was due to lifting something with poor form, learning the proper way to lift will help you avoid further injury.

  1. Severity of the injury

Apart from the type of injury, its severity will limit your exercise choices. While light walks are great for recovering from a mild back injury, they may not be a good idea when you’re dealing with a severe one. 

In such cases, workouts that allow you to lie down without disturbing your back may be the best option.

Is exercise after an injury suitable for everyone?

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While we encourage you to exercise after an injury, we are honest enough to tell you it’s not for everyone. Some injuries are just too severe for you to risk worsening them by working out. 

If you have to exercise an injured part of your body, let it be with the go-ahead of your physiotherapist or doctor.

Of course, consulting your doctor doesn’t mean they’ll automatically say Yes. Where there are severe injuries or a patient is too weak, doctors often say no for the patient’s safety. If this happens to you, be patient until you get a bit better; otherwise, you may suffer setbacks in your recovery process.

And if your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence and you are pursuing compensation, it may be a good idea to consult your personal injury counselors before you start any exercises to avoid doing anything to jeopardize your claim.

Are you ready to start training after your injury?

Now you’ve gotten through the worst of your injury and want to start exercising as you heal, the best place to start is with advice from a trainer. They will recommend the correct workouts and show you how to do them without worsening your injury. 

For example, you will learn the proper posture to use and essential workout routines such as warming up and cooling down to prevent you from aggravating your injury.  

A trainer may also recommend techniques that will lessen any discomfort you experience, like including more rest days between workouts and using assistive devices to make exercises easier.

Once you get the go-ahead, monitor your reactions. Your body will always signal when you are doing the wrong thing. 

If you experience weird feelings such as dizziness or sharp pains, stop exercising immediately to avoid worsening your pain or regressing your healing process. 

However, the bottom line is, exercise after an injury is one of the best ways to hasten healing and regain your strength.