I’m Injured, Now What?

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Exercise Alternatives For When You Can’t Run

Every runner’s nightmare is getting an injury and being benched. Being injured means losing fitness, cardiovascular endurance, muscle, and all the work you put in before the injury – or at least most think so. Although injuries are certainly a set back, here are some ways to keep working out while you’re injured:

  • Alter-G Treadmill
    • Pros: The Alter-G antigravity treadmill is probably the best substitute for actual running. It allows you to run with less body weight, letting you complete the motions of running and get all the aerobic benefits while putting less stress on your body. You can also rent them out if you only plan on using it to get back on your feet.
    • Cons: It’s rare. While some places may have them, they are usually far and few.
  • Aqua-Jogging
    • Pros: It is one of the safest options for cross training because there is no impact, and is still an excellent aerobic workout because of the water resistance. You can spend as much time as you want in the pool without aggravating your injury.
    • Cons: You can’t move your legs as fast as running, so you might need to play catch-up with your speed work.
  • Swimming
    • Pros: In a regular crawl, most of the muscle usage is in your arms, shoulders, and back, providing much-needed rest for those with leg injuries.
    • Cons: Because it relies mostly on your upper body, you aren’t getting the same workout for your legs. You can always use a kickboard for more of a leg workout, however it doesn’t match up to the same effort as running.
  • Spinning
    • Pros: Any kind of cycling gives you a great workout that attacks similar muscles to running, without the impact. Spinning in particular lets you get the same workout without stopping for obstacles like outside.
    • Cons: Since spinning is easier than running, you need to spin 1.5 times longer to maintain fitness. It also can irritate some people’s knees and other joints, which isn’t optimal for injury recovery.
  • Stepper
    • Pros: It is low-impact and works out the entire lower body, particularly the quadriceps.
    • Cons: It can be hard on your hips and takes longer to get in the same workout as a run.
  • Elliptical
    • Pros: Training on the elliptical matches up well to the fitness gains that you would get on a treadmill. It also focuses less on calves, so this would be a good choice for those with Achilles and calf injuries.
    • Cons: Using the elliptical can target joints at the knee, hip and ankle, making this a poor choice for people with injuries in those areas.