Friday, 22 June 2018

How to exercise with an injury

Just before Christmas, I wrote a post about how I'd found a love of exercise. In that way the universe sometimes does when it's got half an ear on what you're saying, I woke up on New Year's Eve with the most incredible pain in my leg. I could barely walk.

I muddled through the festivities before heading to my GP as soon as I could. He sent me for scans at the hospital, where I was diagnosed with thrombophlebitis which is inflammation of the veins in my leg. Because this inflammation was near to the junction with the deep vein, I was put on a course of blood thinners (injected into my stomach daily for six weeks - ouch!). All sorted now, thankfully.

Alongside this leg problem, my back was playing up too. As a teenager, I was diagnosed with a scoliosis in my spine - a 42° curve in my lower back which threw my hips out at an odd direction. At 45° or more, the treatment is surgery so I was always glad to fall just shy of this cut-off point. But what it did mean was that I carried with me significant structural differences that could manifest in pain or exhaustion. Recently, I've really suffered with piriformis syndrome and a recurrent issue with my iliolumbar ligament, as this is my weak spot thanks to the quirks of the scoliosis.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that over the past six months my body has made it very difficult for me to carry on running, using the elliptical trainer, doing Body Blitz or very much at all, really. And I miss my routine!

After a lot of rest, regular Pilates and a few sessions with a brilliant chiropractor, I'm back on track. But running is out of the question, as is anything that will put pressure on my back. I can't resume that old routine, so what am I going to do?

Five exercises you can do with an injury*


At the top of the list because this is the best alternative to running I could find. Total cardio workout and you can really go for it in spin without fear of putting too much pressure on your body. Plus, the spin studios at my gym (David Lloyd) are dark and have really loud music playing which totally motivates and makes the time whizz by.


I know, I know, when you're used to a more sweaty workout, the idea of swimming doesn't feel like it'll cut the mustard. But needs must, and swimming can be a really brilliant exercise for building strength and stamina. Be careful which stroke you choose though, as breaststroke (my stroke of choice) is hard to get right if - like me - you swim trying not to get your hair wet. You have to have your face in the water and keep your chin low so as not to put pressure on your neck and upper back. Bonus points if you can benefit from this glorious weather and swim outdoors - I'm figuring out the quietest times at David Lloyd for this very purpose. And if you're doing lots of lengths, don't forget the water resistant sunscreen!


I've been doing yoga on and off for over fifteen years but it's always been reliant on finding a class I love and a teacher I connect with (a bit like hairdressers!). But I've just realised it doesn't have to be that way. 15 minutes of stretching totally counts. It's more about making regular time, regardless of whether that's in your pyjamas at home watching YouTube or at a class with twenty other people.


I've been going to Pilates for over a year now and it's the single most useful thing I've done for my body in years. Yes, the class is predominately women who've had kids but there are a few men too. It's just a great way to build core strength even when you have other stuff going on with your body. My recent Bupa Health Assessment showed that this dedication has paid off as I was easily able to do the balance and flexibility checks. Go me!


At my gym, you can chat to personal trainers every six weeks who will set you up with a program for you to independently train. This is such a brilliant resource as they show you what to do - a tailored plan just for you - and teach you how to warm up and stretch out properly, plus what all those scary looking machines do. After six weeks you can see them again to discuss how things have gone, update your plan etc. BRILLIANT.

So that's my plan for this summer: spin/swim/stretch/repeat. Look out for updates on Instagram Stories, where you'll probably see a lot of that outdoor pool if the weather holds.

Do you have a regular routine? Any injuries to be mindful of? Anything to add to this list?
Please leave a comment!

* Obviously, I am sharing what I've learnt works for me and my body, with the types of injuries/back problems I describe above. Disclaimer: This is not intended as a substitute for medical advice and anyone reading this who has back problems or other injuries should seek professional advice and be cleared to exercise before doing ANYTHING! But you're clever readers and you know that, right? 

This is not a sponsored post, however we do work with David Lloyd - you can read previous posts about our collaboration here!

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