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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, but there are ways if you’re willing to adapt. Here are 4 Cardio workouts you can do with an injured leg.

Image of a broken leg in a plaster cast

Cardio Workouts with an Injured Leg

1. Swimming and Water Aerobics

Swimmer

Image of Swimmer

Water exercises are a great way to perform cardio exercises with minimal weight through the leg.  This is helpful if you are not able to 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 now that allow water exercises. Activarmor is a new custom casting option which is made out of hard ABS plastic. Activarmor is custom made with 3D printing and is removable if needed. This new casting technology is only available at JOI on the East Coast.

Activarmor casts, 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 are able to 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 ear buds and watch a movie or listen 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 body weight 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.

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 are able to return to 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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