Getting injured is always a bummer, but it’s not a good excuse to become a couch potato.
Exercise can actually enhance your healing process, so long as you don’t overdo it, listen to your body and do the right exercises. Please take into consideration that many of the tips I provide below depend on your age, current fitness level and injury. These tips are for minor injuries that don’t require surgery or physical therapy. They are also great ideas to help avoid injuries.
• Foam roller: If you have not heard of a foam roller, you need to read my blog about them, Foam Roller 101. They are the single most effective tool to use to heal chronic tendonitis, tight muscles, cramping, and to prevent injuries from ever happening. It’s vital to use proper technique, so check out my blog or ask a fitness professional who is knowledgeable in foam roller use.
• Swimming is an excellent alternative for people who are either out of shape, or cannot do weight-bearing exercise. If you cannot swim, take an aquatics class where you can wear a floatation belt. Swimming with a pool buoy between the legs is effective especially for lower body injuries.
• Knee injuries can sometimes handle the bike as long as the tension is moderate to light. Focus on the back of the leg, like the glutes and hamstrings by using a pedaling motion similar to scraping gum off your shoe. If you sit all day, this is a fun way to work the legs without a lot of impact on the joints and hopefully prevent injury.
• Low-back injuries that are not nerve related can be tricky. Exercise the core gently. Two great exercises that help loosen some of the tight back muscles and strengthen the core are pushing your back into the floor, and a bridge. Lie down on your back with knees bent. Neutralize your pelvis by tilting forward so your spine is flat on the floor and you cannot put your hand under your back. Pull the belly into the spine. For a bridge you will stay in this position and then lift the hips off the floor, engaging the glutes (your butt). Lower slowly until you are about an inch off the floor, then come up again. You should feel this in your glutes, not your back. If you are unsure about how to do these properly, or if they cause back pain, find a qualified fitness professional to watch your form.
• Minor shoulder injuries are some of the hardest to recover from. Most of the time, these injuries are caused by weakness in the upper back muscles, located between your shoulder blades. If you have a difficult time pulling your shoulder blades together (without bringing your elbows back), you are at risk for shoulder injury. This can also be caused by tight chest muscles. People who work at a computer are very prone to this combination. Have a friend stand behind you and put their fingers between your shoulder blades. Then, try to squeeze their fingers, pulling your shoulder blades back and down. Be sure not to tighten your shoulders up, around your ears and neck. ■
If you need help with foam roller technique and the form of these exercises, email Elyse at firstname.lastname@example.org. Venus Fitness is holding a comprehensive injury clinic on April 13 at 9 a.m. Visit www.venus4her.com. This article was originally printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer on March 28, 2013
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