By: Ann Corwin Marix, ACE-CPT, LMT
In the midst of your workout, you feel it…a grind, a sharp pain, a pop…uh oh. After you realize you’ve incurred an injury, your first thought is “UGH…I will need surgery…, there go my workouts for the next 6-8 weeks.” That does not have to be the case! I can say this as I speak, first hand, from my own experience. My parents endowed me with bad knees as a trade off for a great personality. I incurred a complete acl and partial meniscus tear in my right knee almost a decade ago and most recently suffered the exact injuries in my left knee. The cliché holds true, if I only knew then what I know now, I would have had a better recovery because I would have continued to exercise. A few modifications to your existing regimen is all you need to stay healthy and strong before, during, and after surgery.
First and foremost, do not ignore the injury as that will not make it go away and it will definitely make the injury worse. Learn how to redefine your workout to create a ‘pre-hab’ game plan! In the past, people have followed the rule of surgery first, physical rehabilitation second. Research has shown the more we do prior to surgery in regard to maintaining our physical health and strength, the rate of recovery improves and, in some cases, surgery may be avoided.
Most injuries are isolated to a specific area, so injuring your knee will not affect you pumping out a chest press or some bicep curls, unless your knee is connected to your arm and if that is the case…well, there is no workout that can fix that! In fact, in the case of a knee injury, it is recommended to continue performing lower body exercises. This will strengthen the musculature surrounding the knee, offering protection as well as prepare for better post surgery recovery. It is important to know what exercises to do to assist in healing and which ones to avoid that could worsen the injury. So here are a few exercises to do and not to do with common injuries:
Avoid: Running, overhead lifting, leg press machine
Try: Walking, stretching, protected ab exercises, recumbent bike, yoga, Pilates
Avoid: Repetitive overhead exercises or lifts with free weights
Try: Front shoulder raises, lateral raises
Avoid: Running frequently
Try: Cross training combined with cardio such as swimming or biking
Avoid: Repetitive impact such as running, jogging, and cardio dance
Try: Upper body exercises, stationary bike, swimming, drawing letters of the alphabet with your toes
Avoid: Any exercise that recreates the pain, running, weighted lower extremity exercises
Try: Swimming, yoga, Pilates, hip/thigh/knee strengthening exercises.
Avoid: Yoga positions that put pressure on the neck, running
Try: Walking, cycling, Pilates, yoga
Avoid: Running, any lower body impact moves
Try: Elliptical trainer, bicycling
If you do have an injury it is important to talk to your doctor, personal trainer, or a physical therapist as they can recommend specific modifications, exercises, and stretches that allow you to continue your training regimen. As always, you should consult a doctor prior to adding to or changing your workouts.
Injuries happen, but when they do, don’t let them keep you down. Instead, let them be the reason you educate yourself on how to work with them and how to avoid them in the future!
About the Author – Ann Corwin Marix
Ann’s start in health and wellness was (and still is) as a masseuse after, believe or not, hiring a personal trainer. See athletics, exercise and activity have always been a major part of my life; but over time life seemed to take over – work; raising a child; keeping a household took its toll and my “Me-time” seemed to disappear. Long story short, what was going to be a time to make myself feel better (by getting a massage after some a personal training session) became an eye opening experience and drove me to obtain my massage license and help others in relieving pain from injuries, trauma, or simply everyday life. Wanting to get back into exercise, I became a Jazzercise instructor and then wanting a closer relationship with clients, followed that experience by becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Certified TRX Instructor. I love providing my clients with a unique and fun approach to help motivate and drive to obtain the results they want.