Can I continue exercising if I'm injured?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
It's important to learn how to avoid exercise-related injuries, and what to do if you get one. For example, just because you pull a muscle doesn't mean you should stop exercising altogether. By staying in shape, you are more likely to avoid future injuries. Just lay off the sore muscle for a while. Try a different exercise that doesn't stress the pulled muscle. For example, if you injure a muscle in your leg, consider swimming, relying mainly on your arms to do the work. Or, use a rowing machine. If your ankles or knees ache, try something with no impact, such as a cross-country ski machine, an elliptical exercise machine, or a stationary bicycle. If your aerobics class has you hurting, consider taking a water aerobics class; you'll get the same workout with none of the impact.
It depends on the severity of the injury and to what area of the body it happened. Some injuries to the upper body will not affect your ability to exercise your core and lower body, and vice versa. If you want to continue exercising during your recovery consult your physician first to make sure you’re healthy enough to exercise and what if any movements you might need to avoid.
Heidi Powell
Even with an injury, you can continue exercising -- it will just require some modifications and creativity from you and your healthcare team to find what works best for you.

Unfortunately, injuries happen, whether they’re exercise-induced or a by-product of simply living life. Sometimes they can be avoided, sometimes they cannot. Here’s the thing: An injury is not an excuse to take a break from your health and often your fitness routine!

For example, if you can’t run, bike or walk, hit the pool, and use the arm bike. If you have an upper body injury, use the stationary bike. There are so many options available that there really is no excuse to put your exercise routine on hold. Again, your healthcare team can help you figure out what works best for you in your situation and help you learn how to avoid injuries in the future.

As frustrating and difficult and never-ending as they may feel, injuries are temporary. You’ll be back to your routine sooner than you think, with a newfound appreciation for having a healthy and injury-free body to move!

This content originally appeared on

Continue Learning about Avoiding Pain & Injury During Exercise

Stay Safe When Exercising With Diabetes
Stay Safe When Exercising With Diabetes
If you live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, exercise is one of the best things you can do to offset diabetic damage to your heart and circulatory syst...
Read More
What does limited physical activity mean?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Limited physical activity means restrictions exist for exercise. These restrictions can be for any t...
More Answers
How can I reduce knee pain when I am mountain biking?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
Sometimes the simple solution is adjusting your bike to your comfort level. You should first check y...
More Answers
What Are the Most Common Mistakes People Make When They Work Out?
What Are the Most Common Mistakes People Make When They Work Out?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.