Can You Exercise When You’re Injured?

I’m injured. There, I said it. It’s hard for me to admit because I am a runner and a Taurus.

I’m injured. There, I said it. It’s hard for me to admit because I am a runner and a Taurus. But 3 weeks ago I found myself unable to go on my daily runs without pain in my foot, which an x-ray revealed was due to a stress fracture. The prescription for a stress fracture? No running.

So what does a runner do when she can’t run? She finds other things to keep her active. Though I thought the 6 weeks off from running was going to be a nightmare, it’s put a lot of things in perspective for me. It gave my body a much needed rest from my 25-plus miles a week running routine and I went back to activities that I used to do before I started running — swimming, pilates, yoga, and weight lifting. In the midst of pounding out the miles on the pavement day after day, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed these other activities. Switching up my routine has shown me the importance of variety in keeping you motivated and also develop new muscle groups (my biceps are bulging from all my chaturangas in yoga).

Jen Mueller, a personal trainer and blogger for, puts it best when she says, “It’s easy to have tunnel vision when you find an activity you love, focusing only on particular classes at the gym, training for the next event, or walking the same route around your neighborhood each day. There are lots of ways to get exercise, and I’d encourage you to try new activities that you might not have considered lately. It can help improve your overall fitness level, break a weight loss plateau, or just become a new activity you learn to love.”

My advice if you’re injured and can’t do your favorite exercise? Try to find another activity that won’t exacerbate the problem. Swimming is usually a great choice for impact-related injuries, such as a stress fracture, because it’s non-weight bearing. Alternatively, if you hurt your lower half, work your upper body, and vice versa. If your injury has you completely sidelined, take the time off to indulge in other activities like cooking, knitting, blogging, or simply spending extra time with your family. You may find a new passion you never knew you had.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest