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How to Exercise, Eat, and Supplement When You're Injured

Get-Fit Guy explains how the proper use of exercise, nutrition, and supplementation when you're injured can help you avoid surgeries, heal naturally, and stay fit. Check out a week-long workout program and menus for a fast recovery.

By
Ben Greenfield
6-minute read
Episode #229

I don't remember where I first heard this, but it’s certainly a true statement:

“Injuries never disappear - they just move around your body.”

It seems that in most active, hard-charging folks, once an elbow injury heals, the pain or discomfort moves to the knee. And once that heals, it migrates to your hip. And once the hip begins to feel OK, it moves to your shoulder, or your back, or your neck...and so on. You get the idea.

I've certainly covered a fair amount about exercise-related injuries - and how to work out when injured. Some of the episodes on this topic include:

But I’ve never before actually laid out what a sample program would look like if you had a seriously injured, sore, or immobile joint, and you wanted to avoid surgery while healing that area as safely, quickly, and effectively as possible...until now.

Below, you will find a sample proactive approach to healing an injury naturally. In this case, the example is for an injured shoulder, but you can apply these same techniques to any area that's troubling you. Hopefully, this information will get your wheels turning about how you can both stay fit through an injury and get an injured area healed up as quickly as possible. 

How to Exercise With an Injury

Instructions: In addition to everything below (which, once again, is an example for an injured shoulder), begin every morning with all 10 exercises from the Foundation book, by Dr. Eric Goodman, which do a great job of building a strong core and foundation without stressing the body excessively.

Monday

  • Do a 5-minute hot-cold contrast shower in the morning and evening, alternating between 20 seconds of cold water and 10 seconds of hot, 10 times through.
  • Use the MarcPro 2-3 times per day. It’s a device that produces a form of electrical muscle stimulation (check out more details about it is here). Surround the area of pain with electrodes and operate for 15-20 minutes with an ice pack covering the actual electrodes (and preferably the entire injured area.) Upon finishing, rub topical magnesium into shoulder.
  • Do 30-45 minutes of cycling, elliptical, or running at explosive intervals (30-60 seconds with 4-to-1 work-to-rest ratio.)
  • Weights (all with elastic bands or elastic tubing): 5 rounds of 20 reps of seated row, external rotation shoulder, internal rotation shoulder, straight arm pull-downs, and straight arm raises. Go as light as necessary for completely pain-free range of motion.

Tuesday

  • Do a 5-minute hot-cold contrast shower in the morning and evening, alternating between 20 seconds of cold water and 10 seconds of hot, 10 times through. Rub magnesium into shoulder after shower.
  • Apply MarcPro 2-3 times per day. Upon finishing, rub magnesium into shoulder.
  • Weights: 5 sets of 5 reps of squats (be cautious with how you carry the weights and be mindful of your shoulder position during the squats. Do nothing that produces pain or discomfort). Follow the squats by 3 sets of 10 lunges or leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, and side-to-side lunges.
  • Optional swim: 10x100 kick with kick board (as hard as possible.)

Wednesday

  • Soak the full body in cold water for 20-30 minutes. Follow with dry sauna for 20-40 minutes. If that’s too hard core for you, alternate soaking in cold water for 10 minutes and hot water for 10 minutes, 3 times through. Rub magnesium into shoulder after soak.
  • Weights: after bicycle or elliptical warm-up, do a circuit of 15-20 repetitions 4 times through. Include incline bench sit-ups, reverse hyperextensions, V-Ups, and Superman (keep arms at side if any shoulder discomfort occurs with Superman.)

Thursday

  • Do a 5-minute hot-cold contrast shower in the morning and evening, alternating between 20 seconds of cold water and 10 seconds of hot, 10 times through. Rub magnesium into shoulder after shower.
  • Apply MarcPro  2-3 times per day. Upon finishing, rub magnesium into shoulder.
  • Weights: 5 sets of 5 reps of squats, followed by 3 sets of 10 lunges or leg presses, leg extension, leg curls, and side-to-side lunges. 
  • Optional swim: 10x100 kick with kick board (as hard as possible.)

Friday

  • Do 30-45 minutes of cycling, elliptical, or running at temp intervals (2-5 minutes with 2-to-1 work-to-rest ratio).
  • Apply MarcPro 2-3 times per day. Upon finishing, rub magnesium into shoulder.
  • Weights (all with elastic bands or elastic tubing): 5 rounds of 20 reps of seated rows, external rotation shoulder, internal rotation shoulder, straight arm pull-downs, and straight arm raises. Go as light as necessary for completely pain-free range of motion.

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About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.