What do you do when you are exercising regularly, feeling great and then lower body pain or injury stop you in your tracks?
Why? The biggest problem I see when someone who is exercising regularly has an injury is the sudden loss of that stress relieving, brain chemistry balancing benefit they were enjoying from regular exercise. That loss can spiral you downward not only physically but mentally too. You can find yourself feeling more anxious and depressed and less motivated for other healthy habits too.
When your lower body is limited there is still a lot you can do to keep moving. With some creativity, open-mindedness, and patience you can prevent the downward mental and physical spiral by shifting to focusing on what you can do rather than what you cant do.
Keep in mind: Your upper body is not designed for the same movements as your lower body. If your upper body is not very strong or flexible, start extra slow and progress very gradually to give your upper body time to build strength, endurance and mobility to do what you are asking it to do.
Cardiovascular Exercise in a seated position
Seated aerobics is a great option because you can do it at home and can find free and low cost options. Here are a few:
Even if you are not a senior, there are many senior exercise videos that could be fun to try as you recover.
Note: I do not recommend using hand weights while doing aerobics. Its not worth the risks to your shoulders!
You can purchase chair aerobics DVD or on demand videos for about $15 at Seated aerobics for Everyone
Strength in a seated position
Focus on upper body seated strength exercises incorporating your core into each movement. Exercise bands sets with a door attachment work great for this because they allow you to do all the basic exercises in a seated upright position.
There is even some evidence that exercising the leg that is not injured can help keep the other leg stronger so use what you can to keep your body strong!
Stretching in a seated position
Stretching has great new science behind it that indicate it to be one of our best anti-inflammatory types of exercise around!
That research shows you are not just stretching muscles, you are helping your connective tissues system stay fluid and function well. Those cells help your immune system and musculoskeletal system function best.
Plus, stretching while healing from an injury or pain flare up can help reduce down-stream tightness that happens when one part of your body is not functioning well. Your whole body adapts to moving when one part is not working well. That can cause tightness in other areas. Whole body stretching is one of your best resources for minimizing the ripple effect of not moving as much while you heal.
As best you can, strive to maintain a balance of strength, stamina and mobility to keep your whole body function as well as possible.
If you are a UMass Memorial Weight Center patient, our online programs give you exercise videos and resources for doing strength and stretching exercises in a seated position.
Please post your comments or suggestions below.
Keep Moving and be well, (even when your lower body is limited!)