How to Stay in Shape When You're Injured

Victoria Hoff
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H&M

Years of playing sports, regular hiking, and traversing icy sidewalks in New York City never brought me down, but last November, thigh-high boots, a heavy microwave, and a poorly placed set of stairs did. I missed a step, my ankle wobbled unnaturally in both directions, and down I went. Miraculously, the microwave was fine. My ankle was not.

I didn't realize how much I liked working out until I couldn't do it anymore. In the eight weeks since that terrible sprain, I have become ever-increasingly stir-crazy, itching to break a sweat again. And it's been a slow start: I was so psyched to go to my first post-injury yoga class last week, only to realize, to my immense frustration, that I couldn't even fold myself into child's pose without my ankle screaming in protest. 

And that's the vicious cycle: I work out to relieve stress, but I can't work out, and I'm stressed out about it. "You know your ankle could bother you for the rest of your life," my brother reminded me quite unhelpfully during the holidays. (He's in med school, and talking to him about ailments is more depressing than looking them up on WebMD.) So, is that it? I just have to accept that I'm going to be sedentary for awhile—possibly months? Years?

Not so, says Christine Bullock, fitness and lifestyle expert and creator of Evolution 20—though she can relate. "After suffering a back injury, I learned firsthand how difficult it can be to get back to feeling 100%, with the added misery of missing your regular workout routine while rehabbing," she explains. "However, injuries force us to change out workout routine and lead to what I believe is the silver lining of injury recovery: learning to master more efficient and effective training and really focus on our weaknesses (which are often the source of injury in the first place)." In other words, that sprain, tear, or break might just be a very well-disguised blessing. 

So, what's the approach? See how to stay active while injured below.

Have you ever dealt with an injury before? How did you stay active while you recovered? Tell us your pointers in the comments below!

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