A little exercise during injury may do the body good

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: April 12th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Muscle tears, strained backs and other injuries can suddenly crop up with a wayward bend to pick up the paper, or while scooping that loving grandchild into one’s arms. And sometimes during the doctor’s visit that follows, patients are told to lay off their usual exercise regimen to allow the body time to rest and heal.

But an increasing number of sports medicine specialists say that blanket advice might actually be detrimental to a speedy recovery, and to exercisers’ workouts once they return to their favorite sport.

Although somewhat in the minority, a select group of experts say as long as an injury is not severe, such as a broken bone or torn ligament, exercise lovers can keep doing the activity they enjoy, as long as they cut back on the intensity and duration… for example, a tennis player might only play one set.

Still more doctors advocate cross-training for injured athletes, or doing an activity that keeps parallel muscle groups moving but spares strained or injured muscles from direct exercise onslaught. Injured runners often cross-train on their bicycles, for example, while tennis lovers might do easy laps in the pool instead of hitting the court. Painful inflammatory conditions like chronic pain and arthritis can actually be helped with daily movement of some kind.

The bottomline? Many sports medicine experts say the injured should consult with their physician first, but the past prescription of total rest from most or all activity may be too much of a good thing.