Exercising with injury

Bandaged knees, finger tape, ankle and wrist supports, all familiar badges of injury and the desire to carry on regardless. As many readers will know, the problem with training regularly and striving to improve your performance is that it inevitably leads to stresses and strains on your body that can, in turn, lead to injury.

Indeed, our training ritual has left its mark on our Tough Mudder team and we seem to be taking it in turns to carry the injury baton and at the moment, frustratingly, it is my turn.

I’m suffering from Achilles tendinitis in my left leg. My ankle is ugly and swollen and walking hurts. I’m feeling tormented by the beautiful spring days that are pretty much begging me to go out running and I know I can’t.

I’m afraid I don’t deal well with injury. I know what I should do, but then I get tempted into a run/climb/circuits session or try to sneak a dance class and invariably make the whole situation worse. This time however, I’m determined not to aggravate my ankle so that I can get back into training sooner and to prevent any long term damage.

Now while the easiest way to do this would be to just rest up completely, for me that isn’t really an option. I get grumpy and fidgety if I don’t have an outlet for the energy built up while sat at a desk all day and if I don’t get my endorphin fix. So instead I’m coming up with a strategy to workout with injury.


Over the past week I’ve been using swimming for my aerobic training. I’m focusing on drilling and pulling and trying to see this as an ideal opportunity to build my upper body strength and get a bit of mileage out of my arms.

Freestyle, fly and backstroke are better than breaststroke when injured as they don’t require any twisting of the joints. I’ve been working on 200m sets alternating pull, drill, full with the odd 100m kick thrown in to loosen our my legs but stopping if I feel even the slightest twinge.

Abs sets

Just because my heel is agony that’s no excuse not to work my abs! I’ve been working with my climbing partner on killer abs sets to help me with my cave climbing. We combine leg raisers, sit-ups against resistance, sit-ups with stomach punches and crunches until I can’t move. I’m also adding daily planks of two minute regular plank plus a minute on each side. Core strength is essential for posture and all sports, so this is really a good time to focus on getting strong.

Weight training

Cardio is not the only way to shed weight, building up muscle is also a perfect way of burning fat. I’ve been focusing my weights sets on my upper body, working on my biceps and triceps, shoulders, lats, back and chest with free weight sets.

Ab curls, dips, press-ups, arm extensions and flies are all great ways to sculpt the muscles in your arms. This Pinterest page has lots of great sets for arm exercises if you are short of ideas.


Finally, this is also a great time to work on my flexibility. As with core strength, flexibility is essential for all exercises; whether it’s perfecting my downward dog or trying to match my foot to my hand on a tricky climb. For this I’m pairing simple yoga moves with general running stretches.

I’m hoping to be back on the road by the end of next week and back in the dance studio the week after but for now I am making the most of what I can do and seeing this as an opportunity to work my lazy bits!

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