Working out with an injury is no laughing matter. They may say “no pain, no gain”, but that’s entirely inaccurate. If you’re feeling pain and trying to work out, you’re not helping yourself — you could actually be hurting yourself even further.
Normally, most doctors and health professionals would advise you to stop exercising or exerting yourself, because you could be aggravating your current injury and cause more damage to your muscles or joints. Conversely, if you really do need to get active and exercise, there are some specific exercises that will likely not cause more harm to your body — these are known as low-impact exercises.
Low-Impact Versus High-Impact
So just what are low-impact workouts? The word impact in this context refers to how hard our joints will be affected by a particular exercise. Low-impact workouts are easier on our joints — such as our ankles, knees, and elbows — and will not cause much damage to us. Low-impact exercises are most appropriate for beginners starting their fitness journey, as well as people who are obese, pregnant women, and people with bone, joint, connective tissue injuries. That’s because low-impact exercise tends to be less jarring on the body and joints, and less intense overall.
On the other hand, there are also high-impact exercises. High-impact exercises tend to be more intense overall and therefore, they can burn more calories. They may even strengthen bones better than lower impact options, but any impact can help with that, even if it’s light. These types of exercises should be reserved for people who are already relatively fit and are at a lower risk for joint problems as high-impact exercises pose a higher risk for injuries, especially to the ankle, knee and hip joints as well as the spine.
The Best Low-Impact Exercises
From what we know so far, high-impact exercises may be more effective at burning calories and helping you to lose weight, but they are intense and can be quite damaging to people who are not prepared or suited to this sort of exercise. This is where low-impact exercise comes in. It is suitable for people with injuries or other painful conditions, so they can still keep themselves active and stay fit. Here are some of the best low-impact exercises that you can try for yourself.
Running is considered to be a high-impact exercise because your legs move fast and are constantly hitting the pavement hard. When you slow down, though, running becomes walking, which is a low-impact exercise. Regular walks can protect you from cardiovascular diseases, improve your posture and even speed up your recovery from an injury. You can either walk outside or on the treadmill at your own convenience.
Because water is denser than us, we’re able to float and move about with relative ease. This means that swimming is considered a low-impact exercise as well, and it’s a solid workout that can build and tone our muscles, as well as an effective calorie-burning exercise. Not only that, but it also works our heart and lungs out, which keeps them in tip-top condition. If you have an existing injury and want to try swimming as a form of exercise, you may want to consult a doctor first.
Cycling Or Spinning
Cycling is another low-impact exercise that burns calories while working on your hamstrings, quads, calves, and glutes without knocking off your knees as running would do. You can choose to cycle outdoors and enjoy a scenic route, or why not take part in an indoor spin class? Using an exercise bike can be a pretty intense yet low-impact cardio workout, which will shred all your excess fat in no time.
Pilates was initially invented as an exercise to help injured soldiers recover from their wounds and injuries, so it is definitely safe to say it is low-impact and an injury-friendly workout. Similar to yoga, Pilates places greater emphasis on breathing techniques while performing the various forms and movements. It is able to strengthen your core muscles, while at the same time building your stamina, endurance, and flexibility.
If you want to make use of the gym, give the rowing machine a go next time. Meant to emulate the rowing action of rowing a boat, this machine works your arm, chest, core, and back muscles together and helps to tone them. Strap yourself in and keep your back straight all the way, before pulling the handlebars towards you. Push back and straighten your legs, and also lean back slightly to engage your core and squeeze your shoulder blades. Repeat this for 3 sets of 12 reps each and you’ll get an effective all-around low-impact workout.
Many people think of yoga as a spiritual exercise that incorporates different poses that stretch you out and enhance your flexibility, but what many do not realize is there are different types of yoga. Power yoga is one such type, and it differs from other yoga types by being more focused on the physical aspect. The various poses included are meant to help you build strength, stamina, and balance, and also to help you achieve clarity and peace of mind.