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Don't let an injury stop you - how to stay active this summer

More of us than ever before are trying to make healthier choices in our lives. We may be addressing our nutrition, exercising regularly, and trying to get enough sleep. We may have just begun our fitness journey or already seeing results. We may be a seasoned pro going from strength to strength. But no matter how careful and experienced we are, injury can strike at any time. We may be lucky enough that our injury is only minor and temporary, but some injuries can require medical intervention, surgery, and a long recovery period.

It is important not to become discouraged when you are injured. Although it may feel like your fitness goals have ground to a halt, it is possible to continue making progress with common sense and discipline. Adjust your nutrition accordingly if you are going to be more sedentary than normal or if you have to keep an injured body part raised. Do not be tempted to simply skip meals. It is more important than ever that diet is balanced and effective, to speed up the recovery process and ensure the body can rejuvenate itself. It is also important to make sure that sleep is not disturbed where possible as this is the time the body heals the most.

Close up of a woman holding her ankle, highlighted in red to denote pain

It can be tempting to get back to an active lifestyle as quickly as possible. If you start to feel like you are losing your cardiovascular fitness or resistance, you may feel panicked into returning to exercise before you are truly ready. This can cost dearly. Not only is recovery time set back even further, but it may even cause irreparable damage to an already weakened area. Try to be patient and disciplined. Take your rest seriously. The more effectively you rest, the shorter your recovery time will need to be. Cutting corners and failing to be sensible only causes more problems.

To prevent boredom and frustration from setting in, there are many ways to still stay active while injured, without compromising recovery.

Staying Supple

Injury recovery necessarily involves rest, but if you spend too much time entirely still you can quickly become stiff. Stiffness in the joints and muscles can cause additional injuries as well as being very uncomfortable. It can also make it more difficult to return to a higher level of activity when you are well again. Under the guidance of your doctor or physiotherapist, you should be doing a small but effective amount of stretching each day. This helps your circulation which in turn helps your injured area to recover. If you are sitting a lot, you should be especially mindful of your posture. You can incorporate gentle stretching for the neck and spine into your routine whether you are injured or fully fit. It helps to prevent injury in the long run.

Easy Office Exercises and Warmup Infographic

Involve a Friend

When you are first recovering from injury but trying to stay active, you can easily begin to feel isolated. You may not be able to attend your usual clubs, activities and gym classes. You may not be able to join in your usual runs or walks in the area. This can have an impact on your mood and overall wellbeing, so it is important to prevent a problem from arising. Involving a friend in the process can be helpful for both of you. Whether your friend is new to exercising or very experienced, you can help to encourage each other. Gentle walks, stretching, and sharing ideas are all great activities. You will still feel connected to a healthy way of life without overdoing things during an injury. Having someone on hand while exercising can also help to rebuild your confidence.

Low Impact

Depending on the severity of your injury, it may not be necessary to stop all forms of exercise. Low impact but effective exercise such as yoga, pilates, swimming, and walking can all be positive additions. Yoga and pilates can help strengthen your core muscles and stability. They improve your balance and help keep your joints and tendons supple. Swimming is great for cardiovascular fitness and also provides some resistance as you swim. Due to the buoyant nature of the water you are always supported. Including some low impact activities in your recovery can help to maintain your current fitness levels, that may otherwise plummet during recovery.

Infographic showing 6 Yoga Poses to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Strength Training

With the support and guidance of a trained professional, you can work on strengthening the muscles around your injured area. Knees are a common site of injury, for example, and although they cannot be strengthened directly, maintaining the health of the quadricep muscles and hamstrings can have a major impact. The strength and support of your back might benefit from core exercises and flexibility training. Shoulder injuries can often be improved by training surrounding muscle groups. It can be difficult to gauge what is a sensible level of activity, so you should not hesitate to ask for advice.


While massage may not seem a direct way to stay active during injury, it has been shown to have a significant effect on recovery. Massage can help to relieve stress, pain, and improve sleep. These can all affect recovery time in negative ways and place undue strain on an already compromised body. Massage can also encourage suppleness and the elimination of toxins through encouraging circulation. When you are injured, lactic acid and other substances can build up in muscles and areas of the body, especially if you are sitting more than normal. It can be difficult to eliminate these without exercise and movement, but massage ensures that blood and oxygen can still circulate effectively. The more blood and oxygen to reach an injured area, the more likely it is to recover quickly. A qualified sports massage can be an investment in your health and future performances. Many athletes from all disciplines, both amateur and professional, swear by the benefits of a regular massage.

Physiotherapist rubbing her elbow into a mans hamstring

With patient, sensible, but effective activity, you can soon be back on your feet and fitter than ever.