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An injury doesn’t have to mean a loss of fitness and endurance levels. By changing the type of exercise you do, you can avoid your injured area.

Many people wrongly assume an injury means they need complete rest to recover. But nothing could be further from the truth. While you need to be careful that you don’t make your injury worse, you can still exercise other parts of the body to keep up your fitness.

Importance of Staying Fit While Injured

When you stop exercising, there’s the physical and mental impact to consider.

Being sidelined from all exercise can cause you to lose strength and conditioning within as little as two to four weeks. The effects on the body include:

  • muscle mass decreases
  • your muscles don’t process oxygen as well
  • your heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently
  • your body doesn’t use carbohydrates to fuel itself as well as it did when you were exercising regularly

It can take weeks or even months to regain your fitness and endurance levels after a long break from exercising.

There’s also the mental health benefits of exercise to consider. The loss of a dopamine can mean an almost immediate hit to your mental health when you stop exercising. Regular exercise also helps keep stress levels in check and assists with depression and anxiety. Exercise can even give you increased confidence and creativity.

So continuing to exercise where you can is important to keeping up your fitness and mental health.

Exercising While Injured

Not all exercise is created equal. Some exercise is better than others when you’re recovering from injury. Some exercises that you can do while recovering from your injury include:


Swimming is a low impact exercise and ideal for most injuries because the water supports your body weight. If you have an upper body injury, you can use a board to support you while you work your legs to move through the water.

Chest and Back Exercises

Lower body injuries like sore knees and ankles are common. There are plenty of ways you can continue to work on your upper body while your lower body recovers.

If you have an injured foot or ankle, try doing push-ups with one foot on top of the other or do the push-ups on your knees to keep the weight off your foot. You can even sit for part of your workout and use hand weights to work your arms and chest. If you go to the gym, focus on the equipment that works the upper body without too much pressure on your knees or feet.

Abdominal Exercises

You don’t want to lose your body’s core strength while you’re out injured. Try to incorporate ab exercises such as bicycle crunches and leg raises into your routine. They don’t require you to put weight on your lower body and can give you a good cardio workout.

Pilates & Yoga

There are plenty of pilates and yoga exercises you can do sitting or lying on your back without weight on your feet. Find variations that work well for you and try doing a few exercises that improve the strength in the injured area to help you recover faster.

Tips for Recovering Faster

There are a few things you can do to improve your recovery time.

  • If you have a strain or sprain, try to eat as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible. Fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, nuts and seeds are all good choices.
  • When you’re exercising, don’t overdo it and if you’re in pain, stop exercising. Use a medicated sport cream or ice on painful areas. Continue to stretch and exercise the injured area as part of your rehabilitation.
  • Start slow and gradually increase your exercise regime as your fitness and strength improve.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and rest after exercise so you’re ready for your next session.
  • Ask for help rather than trying to do it on your own. An injury rehab program such as the Recovery and Wellness Initiative (RAWI) can help. The program provides holistic support to those people with physical or psychological injuries to return to work and life. The personalised program works in collaboration with your treating doctor, psychologist or rehabilitation provider to achieve lifestyle improvements.

If you would like more information about the Altius Group’s RAWI and RAWI Remote programs, call 1300 307 912 or contact us online.