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For any athlete recovering from a lower body injury, finding different ways to stay active can be easier said than done. It might take a few weeks or months before your injury is fully healed, which can mean that shifting weight or pressure upon a rehabbing ankle or leg will only prolong the time necessary for recovery. Of course, staying inactive can be next to impossible for ambitious athletes who are nursing an injury. Luckily, there are plenty of quality low-impact exercises that are known to provide a substantial workout without putting too much strain upon a recovering part of the body. If you’ve been given the go-ahead by your doctor to resume mild physical activity, here are seven of the most effective low-impact exercises to engage in during times of athletic recovery:
While the idea of going for a long walk doesn’t sound as effective as sprinting along the race track, the fact remains that this method of transportation we take for granted is an ideal low-impact exercise for recovering athletes. This doesn’t necessarily mean that leisurely strolling around the neighborhood for a few minutes will provide a sufficient workout. The New York Times recommends walkers should be striding at a brisk pace of at least more than 2 miles per hour. Livestrong reports that one hour of walking at a pace of 3.5 miles an hour will help a 160 pound person lose 276 calories. The best part of walking is that there are practically infinite ways to perform this mild-yet-efficient low-impact exercise.
One of the best ways to get in a solid aerobic workout without putting too much strain on your lower body is by running on an elliptical machine. The Mayo Clinic recommends using an elliptical machine over a treadmill for people who are looking to avoid pressure on their lower body, as these machines are designed to put less stress upon your knees, hips and back during use. Elliptical machines also have poles to use so you can simultaneously work out your upper body, and can be peddled in reverse to emphasize a workout on your hamstrings.
Want a demanding workout that won’t require you to even stand up? Rowing machines are a great source of cardiovascular activity that won’t require any pressure or movement upon your lower body. As you continue to pull back and forth, you’ll be engaging dozens of muscles in your body, getting your heart pumping faster while also increasing your muscle endurance. Best of all, you can set up these machines in the comfort of your own home, so you can get the recovery workout you need while watching television in the living room!
It can be hard to continue trying to increase your lower body strength while nursing an ankle or foot injury. For a workout that’s extremely low-impact but also provides several health benefits, look no further than performing a few sets of lunges. Slowly lunging across the room is a great technique for establishing better balance and flexibility within your hips and leg muscles, and proper positioning also will help boost the endurance of your core muscles.
Similar to the elliptical machines, using stair climbing equipment at a gym is another low-impact exercise that unleashes plenty of health benefits for your lower body. While less pressure is placed upon your ankles and legs, each step also works to build lower body strength and muscle tone as you continue to carry additional weight in an uphill movement. Stair climbing can keep your heart rate elevated at a high level, allowing for maximum cardiovascular performance while helping to keep your muscles flexible even as you recover from a mild injury.
Of course, exercise simply doesn’t get any lower-impact than freely floating in the water. Swimming is a renowned activity for increasing flexibility and endurance, utilizing areas of your body that you simply cannot work out on land. According to researchers from Bucknell University, physical benefits from swimming can range from improving muscular balance and rehabilitating injured muscles to vastly improving flexibility and strength in the lower body. It’s also an activity with a wide variety of exercises to explore, whether you’re simply swimming strokes across the pool or engaging in water-based pilates or yoga workouts.
If you’re looking for a low-impact activity that combines leisure recreation with workout benefits, look no further than golf. According to the American Society of Golf Course Architects, golfers who walk and carry their own bags will burn approximately 721 calories while playing on a nine-hole course. In addition to burning calories, you’ll be staying active without having to put too much pressure upon your lower body. As if you needed a good excuse to book a tee time!
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Endurance athletes who take part in marathons, triathlons or century bike rides typically have fitness goals of strength and stamina. Your body needs to be strong enough to carry you long distances, and it needs to have the proper training in order to function for extended periods of time.
Before a race it’s crucial to plan a training program to prepare, and most of this will include running or cycling through intervals of faster and slower speeds, up and down hills and longer and shorter distances. It should also include cross training with strength exercises and core workouts such as Pilates for total body training.
Another factor that should be included in a pre-race program is athletic recovery and stretching. Whether you’re a new or seasoned endurance athlete, you’ll be putting your body through more intense challenges, which is sure to leave you with sore muscles from time to time, but it can also increase your risk of injury. To prevent getting hurt and having a setback, you need to take the proper precautions, which include stretching and massage.
A century bike ride will take you 100 miles, and it will certainly test your mental and physical prowess. This may seem like a lofty goal, but it’s certainly an achievable one that many endurance cyclists aspire to complete.
Being able to bike 100 miles requires serious commitment, dedication, planning and training. Once you decide to take part in a century ride, you need to starting working at least eight weeks beforehand to prepare your mind and body for the challenge ahead. Your training program should consist of long and short rides as well as intervals of different speeds, resistance levels, terrain and hills. It’s also a good idea to cross training with weight lifting to strengthen your muscles and exercises such as Pilates that provide stretching and improve posture.
Another key component is nutrition. Your body won’t be able to last long if it is not being fueled properly. Even slight dehydration can completely zap your energy levels and cause sore musclesand cramps. If this does happen, giving your muscles a massage can help. Additionally, eating the right amount of carbohydrates and fats is needed to fuel your muscles and provide you with the nutrients to keep you going mile after mile. You’ll certainly want to pack snacks to stop and eat during your ride to replenish fuel sources, curb hunger pangs and boost energy. Remember not to pack any foods that are too heavy or hard to transport. A muffin may sound delicious, but it can be messy to eat. Also, be sure not to try any new foods in case it affects your stomach negatively and you have to stop mid-race.
Here are some tasty, helpful snack options to pack for your century ride:
Whether you’re preparing for a cycling race, training for a triathlon or simply appreciate the exhilarating cardio workout you get from riding, your body (the lower half in particular) is certainly being challenged.
Most of your focus will be on the meat of your training – developing programs for each ride to incorporate different terrain, speeds, hills and other aspects of riding itself. But it’s also important to remember that your training doesn’t stop once your session ends. In fact, time spent after you hop off your bike is just as important as time spent on the saddle. Cooling down and taking part in athletic recovery reduces your risk of sore muscles and injuries, which can sideline you and set you back in your schedule. This is especially problematic if you are on a deadline for a race.
After each bike ride you should be taking the time to stretch out your muscles and allow your mind and body to return to their resting states. It’s also useful to incorporate self massage into your routine each week, especially after an intense ride. Massage will help loosen up muscles even further, which is important so you don’t create any imbalances.
There are several key muscles you should focus your massager on after a bike ride: