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Exercising through injury, the right way

For an athlete, getting injured is one of the worst things that can happen. Depending on the type of injury you may be out of competition for a long time. Instead of lying on the couch throwing paper balls into a bin, speak to your physiotherapist about other forms of exercise you can do that will not aggravate your injury and at the same time help you stay fit.

There are many types of low-impact exercises you can do while you are recovering. Your physiotherapist may advise on some or all of the following:

Swimming

This is one of the best forms of exercise for injured athletes. The buoyancy of the water supports your weight so there is little force on your muscles or joints. Swimming recruits all the major muscles of the body - arms, abs and legs for a good, stress-free workout.

Cycling

Whether you use a moving bike or a stationary one, cycling is a great form of cardio exercise which helps to burn fat, tone muscle and build endurance. If you have had knee surgery, cycling can lubricate the knee and improve flexibility and range-of-motion. Your physiotherapist will tell you how long you should stay on the bike and how much resistance is safe for your fitness level.

Rowing

The rowing machine in the gym is a good form of upper-body workout for the athlete who sustained a leg injury. Rowing in a boat is also good and gives the added bonus of being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. If your upper body is injured, this low-impact activity will not cause more trouble, however to be safe, consult with your physiotherapist as to how much and how fast you should perform this exercise.

Stretching

This is a great way to keep the body toned, provide flexibility and increase range-of-motion. However, this should be done under the supervision of your physiotherapist. He/she will tell you what stretches to do, how many and at what range. If necessary, he/she will assist you to perform the stretches until you can do them safely on your own.

Exercises using your own body weight (such as sit-ups, push-ups and chin-ups) can also help you get some sweat and maintain fitness, just as long as you follow your physiotherapist's advice. Becoming injured does not mean that you are bound to the couch to lose all the fitness you have achieved. Come in and see us; we will put you on a safe yet effective program.


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