Exercises for Injury Recovery

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Injuries may suck the life out of you, but they’re not the end of the world. You can typically still train them in an altered program and return to activity relatively healthy, you just need to have a smart program in place. Talk to an athletic therapist or personal trainer at your club to see if there’s anything you should do differently, and what they can do to help you get back on track.

Try these four exercises for injury recovery to keep your entire body strong, and injury free. The movements are much less technical than you would think, but require concentration and focus to do properly. Pay attention to what you’re working, and if needed ask an athletic therapist to coach you through the movements.

T-Spine Rotation

This area of the spine has the attachment points for all your ribs, as well as your shoulders, neck, and lower back. If it doesn’t move well, it’s going to create havoc on all these areas, so being sure it can move free and clear is incredibly important.

The Set Up: In a side-lying position on your left side, place a foam roller (pictured) or medicine ball under your right knee, and hold on to your knee with your left hand. Using your free right hand, rotate your shoulders back so that your right shoulder comes close to or touches the floor, opening up your arm and trying to get your head, shoulder and wrist to all contact the floor while also keeping your knee on the roller. If you feel your low back, you’re doing all the rotation through your low back, which isn’t right. Get your hips squared up vertically, and make sure you only rotate through the ribs and shoulders. Repeat on the other side.

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Sumo Deadlift

A staple movement of any activity is hip extension combined with spinal stability, which this trains exceptionally well.

The Set Up: Grab a barbell and step your feet about six inches outside of your shoulder width. Hold the barbell inside your shoulder width as pictured. Now flex your glutes, squeeze your abs, pull your shoulders back and make your torso feel like a rock-solid beam that’s not going anywhere. Stick your butt straight back, making sure your neck stays in the same position as the start, and let your locked torso lean forward without bending. All the movement comes from the hips. Let the bar come down to just below the knees, and then push the hips forward and pull back on the bar with your shoulders to stand up. Make sure to exhale as you lift.

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Cat-Camel Stretch

Decidedly less intense, this exercise lets you work on passive stretching of the spine without any effects of load. It’s also a great morning stretch to get the blood flowing.

The Set Up: On hands and knees, get the hands directly under the shoulders and the knees directly under the hips. Raise your belly button up to the sky as high as possible, and tuck your chin down to your collarbone. Hold for one breath, then lower the belly button to the floor and raise your head. Hold for one breath.

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One-Leg Deadlift

This exercise combines balance with mobility through the hip, as well as some spinal stability, giving it a three-punch combo that’s tough to beat.

The Set Up: Standing on your right foot, hold the weight in your left hand. Tense the torso as with the sumo deadlift, and hinge at the hips forcing your elevated foot to raise as you bend forward. Lower the weight to just below your knee without flexing your spine. Stand up tall and strong. Repeat on the other leg and other arm.

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