Learning to adapt exercise while hurt

Recently, I suffered a knee injury that has sent my regular workout routine out the window.

New research suggests that adapting your workout routine to accommodate an injury rather than ditching it altogether can actually help in the healing process.

In this instance, my routine has focused on one legged squats, hamstring curls and leg extensions on the healthy leg. For reasons not completely understood, exercise on one side of the body translates to gains on the injured side.

This is also a great time to focus on upper body and core work. Not spending as much time on legs allows me to do more sets of core exercises. This has included lots of crunches on a stability ball with multiple variations to keep things interesting.

For arms, chest and upper back, I have focused on an ascending/descending pyramid. In this type of routine, you perform three exercises with three different hand weights - light, medium and heavy. For example, you could do a set of shoulder presses followed by a set of overhead triceps extension and finishing up with a set of bicep curls using the light weights. With no rest, move through the same set of exercises with the medium weight and then the heavy weights. Without stopping repeat the exercises with the medium and light weights. After you have done a total of 5 sets you will need to spend a few minutes stretching before you move on to the next group of exercises.

Because I am limited in the types of cardio I can do right now, I have changed up my strength training routine.

By performing sets with little to no rest and moving quickly from one exercise to the next, I can elevate my heart rate and keep it up. This allows for a non-traditional cardio workout to be achieved.

This injury has also helped me to slow down and spend more time stretching. I am convinced that the great majority of us do not spend enough time on this important aspect of fitness. I always feel great after a 20 minute stretch routine.

Whether your injury is chronic or acute, exercise can actually help the healing process. Focusing on what you can do and not on what is not possible because of injury will help you stay on track even during this busy time of year.

Talk to a trainer to learn safe ways to adapt your routine that keeps you moving forward and without aggravating your injury.

Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

Melissa Bagnall is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University in physical education. You can email questions to: fitnesolutions@gmail.com.