Five steps when exercising with an injury.

Danh Ngo"Staying Active" Division, Exercise Tips, Pain Relief Division

Where do I start if I am trying to exercise with an injury?

Exercising and becoming physically fit should not be difficult to do, but it is for most people at the beginning phase. You have the Ixcela’s fitness template and have read through what you need to do to get your body right. You are excited, but nervousness and overwhelm hits you like a brick. The idea of going to the gym or working out at home is where most people start and end. When you have an injury, being confident in how and what to do becomes harder to achieve. Well, you have come to the right place. As a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist specializing in bridging injury management with performance, this article will give you a first glance template on how to exercise with an injury.  

Here are five steps when exercising with an injury.

  • Show up daily.
  • Cardiovascular health is a building block for muscle growth or fat loss.  
  • Find strength-based exercises to our non-injured limbs and body regions.
  • Know your purpose, and this makes it is perfect to start light with a strength-based exercise. Add intention to your movements.
  • Full mobility is always a priority as you start and level up.
  1. The key to everything is to show up daily. Everyone knows this idea, but acting on this idea can lead to numerous excuses and reasons. Our brain drives engagement and subsequent actions. When you are not feeling well, it is more comfortable to accept the status quo. The science of neuroplasticity, or our brain’s ability to change how we function, requires the feeling of challenge or uncomfortableness. This uneasy feeling is driven by the release of the neuromodulator epinephrine, similar to the hormone adrenaline. Epinephrine excites us when released but converted to a sense of uncomfortableness when the task is novel and scary. Most people know that exercise can give a sense of well-being called exercise high. Endorphins are our own’s body way of reducing pain. You have to start and maintain a certain intensity to reap the benefits of endorphins.  
  2. Many people know that cardio-based exercises are essential for heart and lung health but have not connected the importance of blood flow to muscle or joint health. You cannot recover without adequate blood flow and oxygen to carbon dioxide ratio. After an injury, it is common to rest, but the tendency is to rest too long. As a Sports Medicine Practitioner, rest should last only 2-3 days after an injury. You want to maintain a high level of physical tolerance. This is what conditioning-based exercises will help. It is crucial to re-establish your desired conditioning level with various low-impact total body movements that you can tolerate.  

As you combine challenging your physical conditioning system with your Ixcela’s gut health protocol, you will have a comprehensive recovery and wellness system to manage your injury. Your gut health trickle down to providing the necessary stimulus to all of the human body’s systems, including your musculoskeletal system.  

3. Build strength to the non-injured regions of your body. Muscle mass and hypertrophy are necessary for metabolisms, such as bone health and weight loss. You benefit more when you do not allow your muscles to atrophy or less impactful during your lower activity lifestyle than an injury tends to do. Research has shown that muscle strengthening-based exercises help our mood, brain health, and when dosed appropriately, boost our immune health.

4. When you perform your suggested exercises, make sure you know what muscles you are strengthening. It can be helpful to google the name of the movements and learn which muscles you are training. Follow up with googling how the muscles look. When you perform your activities, intentionally feel and imagine your muscles activating and building. A mind-body approach will improve the recruitment of your muscle fibers.  

5. Your muscles, loosely, functions like a rubber band. The more elastic and pliable your muscle fibers are, the more they can explode after loading up the muscle fibers in a lengthened position. You can picture a child swing more forward when you pull the swing further back. When you have a mobility or range of motion problem, it is common to focus on that motion and neglect and potential subtle stiffness in the other directions. The muscle or joint limitations will improve with consistent stretching and corrective-based movements.  

Are you looking to get more guidance? Prefer expertise to piece step by step on how to get mobile with an injury?

Wishing you the best,


Board Certified Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialist

Doctor of Physical Therapy

RockTape Certified Advanced Movement Specialist and Mobility Specialist

Titliest Performance Institute Certified Golf and Medical Professional