4 Cardio Workouts You Can Do With An Injured Leg

By Ehren Allen, PT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

As a physical therapist, I am frequently asked how to work on cardiovascular fitness with an injury in the leg. The most common question is, “When can I run again?” Maintaining cardio fitness during recovery from a leg injury can be challenging. Still, there are ways if you’re willing to adapt. Here are 4 Cardio workouts you can do with an injured leg.

When injured, there are only some exercises you should do.

Image of a broken leg in a plaster cast.

Cardio Workouts with an Injured Leg

1. Swimming and Water Aerobics

Swimmers can suffer from injuries.

Image of Swimmer.

Water exercises are a great way to perform cardio exercises with minimal weight through the leg.  This is helpful if you cannot place all of your body weight through the injured leg. It is particularly helpful with arthritis pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. The water provides resistance, which can help to build strength in the legs.  Maintaining the movement or walking in a pool can increase cardio fitness.

With a fractured or broken bone, water exercises can be limited if the leg is in a cast. However, there are now cast options that allow water exercises. ActivArmor is a new custom casting option which is made out of hard ABS plastic. Activarmor is a custom-fitted cast made with 3D printing and is removable if needed. This new casting technology is only available at JOI on the East Coast. ActivArmor is available at JOI San Marco and JOI Baptist South locations.

Activarmor casts shown in multiple colors.

Waterproof casts made by ActivArmor.







2. Stationary Bike

A stationary bike is the cardio option of choice for many with injured legs.  The bike is a low impact way to increase cardio fitness.  If you can bend the knees and hips, you can probably ride a stationary bike.  It is possible to ride with a cast or splint on the ankle or foot, but the ride may be slower.

All stationary bikes can be adjusted to increase resistance as needed.  Therefore, this can really challenge the cardio system and provide an effective workout. If you’re worried about being bored, try using earbuds, watching a movie, or listening to music.

3. Yoga and Pilates


woman practicing yoga

Yoga and Pilates are effective ways to improve core strength and flexibility. They also improve cardiovascular fitness. Both can be modified to accommodate an injured leg. Yoga and Pilates can be performed on a mat on the floor, and many of the exercises do not require standing.

It is important to find a skilled Yoga or Pilates instructor to help with the modifications. This will help ensure a strong cardio workout as well as the typical benefits from Pilates and Yoga.

4. High-Intensity Training

Functional Strengthening

Image of HIT training

High-intensity training or HIT training involves quick movement through various exercises to increase all aspects of fitness. This may include bodyweight resistance exercises, weight lifting, running drills, and agility training. While the running and agility drills may be limited, many resistance and lifting exercises can be performed with no weight through the injured leg.

A skilled trainer or therapist can help to modify exercises to allow for effective cardiovascular exercises.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.

4 Cardio workouts you can do with an Injured Leg- Recommendations

If you use these 4 Cardio workouts you can do with an injured leg; please consult a medical professional to ensure you can return to sport. To schedule an appointment at JOI Rehab, please click the link below to request an appointment.

Book An Appointment with JOI Rehab.

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Ehren Allen, PT, COMT

Image of Ehren Allen, PT, COMT – Content Writer

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