upper body injury

How to train around an upper body injury

You have injured your shoulder or your elbow and you can’t train your upper body. Firstly, I recommend seeing a health professional such as a physiotherapist or your GP to have the upper body injury assessed and to have rehab exercises prescribed. They will also let you know what limitations you have in your training while it heals. Some injuries will still allow you to perform limited upper body movements, but again, best to check with your health professional and follow their advice.

The good news is there is still many exercises you can do that don’t involve your upper body. Also, because the muscles in your lower body are so large, you will get a bigger calorie burn which will help compensate for the limitations you’re currently experiencing.

Depending on the location and extent of your injury, you should be able to train your legs with weights including:

  • Leg press
  • Leg extension
  • Leg curl (seated, lying or standing)
  • Hip thrusts
  • Glute focused hyperextensions
  • Calf raises
  • Hip abductions and adductions

In addition you can incorporate bodyweight exercises such as:

  • Lunges and split squats
  • Step ups
  • All types of squats
  • Abdominal work

Cardio should also be fine, such as running, walking, treadmill, cross trainer and bike.

It is best to avoid anything that involves placing a barbell on your back such as squats, good mornings and weighted barbell lunges. Any pulling movements such as deadlifting and any back exercises such as cable rows, pulldowns etc should also be avoided while you are recovering, together with any pressing movements such as chest press and shoulder press.

I reiterate – always check with your health professional so they can advise on your program, ensuring that you don’t re-injure yourself or make the existing injury worse. Always undertake the rehab exercises they prescribe for you – religiously – and resist the temptation to rush back into training. Patience is key to recovering from any injury so you can start training again sooner rather than later.

If you are injured and would like some help with your training, I can write a custom training plan for you that takes into account any limitations you may have. This is best developed after you have sought treatment from your physiotherapist so that their advice can be incorporated into your plan.

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