Whether you suffered an injury while playing a sport or just were unlucky in your day-to-day activities, soft tissue sprains, strains, bumps and bruises are a common occurrence for most people and can disrupt your normal fitness or sport activities. Here are the four best ways to stay in shape while recovering from a lower-body injury.
1. Do Upper-Body Strength Training
Use this time to focus your training on developing your upper-body strength. Choose exercises that don’t require you to constantly be getting up and down and also do not require much dynamic movement and are either seated, or lying exercises. Bench press, lat pulldowns, seated row and seated shoulder press exercises are all great options for activating large muscle groups with compound movements yet protecting the lower body from any additional injury.
2. Perform Cardiovascular Exercise
Unfortunately, the majority of cardiovascular exercise is done with the lower body, but there are several low impact exercises that can still provide an aerobic and even anaerobic cardiovascular workout. Swimming and the upper-body ergometer are great aerobic workouts that do not require much lower body effort. If you’re looking for something more challenging, try using the battling ropes from a seated position. The battling ropes can be done in an interval format and are a great muscular endurance and anaerobic cardiovascular conditioning tool even if done from sitting in a chair.
3. Increase Range of Motion
Use this time to focus on improving or maintaining your flexibility and range of motion throughout your lower body. It is highly important when rehabilitating an injury that some form of low impact stretching protocol be implemented to help not only speed up the process of healing but also to improve function and get you back up an active as soon as possible. Following the first 72 hours, once swelling has gone down, The most effective treatment will be using heat packs and gentle massage combined with light, gentle static and passive stretching exercises after your heat and massage treatment.
4. Do Non-Weight-bearing Lower Body Strength Training
Using non0weight bearing-strength training and isometrics for the lower body during an injury can greatly reduce the rates of muscular atrophy and improve circulation for faster recovery times and improved performance once fully recovered.
Muscles worked: Quadriceps
- Lie seated with legs extended and extend the legs forcefully to contract the quadriceps
- Squeeze and hold the contraction for 15-30 seconds intervals and perform 2-3 sets
Muscles worked: Glutes/ Hamstrings
- Lie flat on your back with palms face down on ground and legs bent to 90 degrees with feet flat on ground
- Press trhough the heels and extend the hips to bridge and make a straight line from knees, hips, to shoulders
Straight Leg Raises
Muscles worked: Quadriceps
• Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other straight.
• Lift the straight leg off the floor about 12 to 18 inches and return to the start. Repeat.
Side Lying Abduction
Muscles worked: Medial glute
• Lie on your side with your legs straight, stacked one on top of the other.
• Lift the top leg six to 12 inches, then lower to the start. Repeat.
Side Lying Adduction
Muscles worked: Hip Adductors
• Lie on your side with your top leg bent at the hip and knee so you can “step” forward and place your foot on the floor in front of you
• Lift your bottom leg up six to 12 inches, then lower to start. Repeat.