How to Workout Even When You Have an Injury

How to Workout Even When You Have an Injury

Injuries can cause major fitness setbacks. Your body needs time to heal, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit on your couch and eat chicken nuggets and fries all day. It means you need to rethink your fitness goals for the season you’re in and find ways to stay active even if you can’t go all in just yet. While your main focus should be on good nutrition, it doesn’t mean you need to spend months completely sedentary. With your healthcare provider’s permission, there are many options you can try for exercise even when you’re nursing pain or injury.  


First get a good pair of walking shoes. Proper shoes make all the difference in the world. Some companies even make plantar fasciitis shoes and other specialty shoes to help people who suffer from foot problems or foot injuries. If you’ve had an ankle break for instance, your doctor may have you walk in a special boot. These still allow you to move, but they protect the break so that it can heal more quickly. The key here is getting movement, without causing a lot of stress on your body.

Walking is good if you have minor foot injuries, shin splints, or upper body injuries that don’t allow you to do vigorous exercise. Just 30-60 minutes a day can help you stay fit and healthy while you heal.


If your joints are painful, swimming is one of the best exercises. It helps you build strength, stamina, and reduces pain. In a weightless environment, pressure is taken off the painful spots so you can just focus on working out. Many fitness enthusiasts leverage the power of water to help them stay strong even when they have knee injuries. Whether you’ve recently had surgery and need rehabilitation, or you experienced a major strain or sprain, water exercises are often recommended by physical therapists.

Stationary Bike

When you have an upper body injury or a minor lower body one that requires movement but less pressure, stationary bikes are essential. It helps tone lower body and core muscles, boosts cardiovascular stamina, and protects your upper body from injury. You’ll be able to workout while sitting so whether you broke an arm, had shoulder surgery, or a sprain, you can still stay fit.

Lower Body Cardio and Weights

Depending on what your injury is in your upper body, you may be able to do some lower body cardio and weights. We already mentioned the benefits of a stationary bike, but an elliptical might be a good solution as well. You’re less likely to jostle your upper body the same way you would on a treadmill and you can set the machines to your fitness level. The goal is to simply do lower body exercises to increase your heart rate.

Additionally, exercises like leg presses and extensions can often be done on specialized equipment to reduce the strain on the upper body. These machines isolate the muscle group so that only that spot is impacted when you use it.

Upper Body Cardio and Weights

Have you ever seen people do boxing from a chair? Have you ever seen someone do weights sitting down? Truthfully, not all exercise must be done from standing. There are ways to still workout either at home or in a gym without using your lower body. Boxing is highly effective at building cardiovascular strength. When you have a lower body injury that keeps you off your feet, try doing boxing moves from a sturdy chair. The important thing is that you get your heartrate up to the appropriate amount and keep it there.

While you probably won’t be training for a bodybuilding competition while you’re injured, you can still maintain strength in your upper body. Hand weights, kettlebells, and upper body machines are all effective options to help you develop and maintain strong upper body muscles while you heal from a lower body injury.


It’s possible to workout when injured. With your healthcare providers go ahead, these are just some of the activities that will help you stay strong and fit, and give your body the break it needs to heal. The key is keep getting great nutrition and focus on exercises that don’t put any strain on your injury.