4 Cardio Workouts You Can Do With An Injured Leg

By Drew Heideman, PT, ATC

4 Cardio Workouts You Can Do with an Injured 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.  There are 4 Cardio workouts you can do with an injured leg.  These exercises can help in your recovery.

man on couch with cast on leg and crutches

4 Cardio Workouts You Can Do With an Injured Leg

1. Swimming and Water Aerobics

4 Cardio Workouts You Can Do with an Injured Leg

Swimming is an excellent workout for an injured leg.

Water exercises are a great way to perform cardio exercises with minimal weight through the leg.  Therefore, it is helpful not to place all of your body weight through the injured leg. Swimming can help with arthritis pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. The water provides resistance, which can help to build strength in the legs.  Maintaining 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. There are now cast options that allow water exercises. ActivArmor is a new custom casting option that is made out of hard ABS plastic. Activarmor is a custom-fit cast made with 3D printing. 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.

ActivArmor makes waterproof casts.








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.

You can adjust the resistance of stationary bikes.  Therefore, this can really challenge the cardio system and provide an effective workout. Try using earbuds, watching a movie, or listening to music.

3. Yoga and Pilates

Yoga at JOI

woman practicing yoga

Yoga and Pilates are effective ways to improve core strength and flexibility. They also improve cardiovascular fitness.  Yoga and Pilates are mat floor exercises, and many of the exercises do not require standing.

I know it important to find a skilled Yoga or Pilates instructor to help with the modifications. Therefore, 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

The final exercise is high-intensity 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. As a result of your injury, you should limit your running and agility drills.  Many resistance and lifting exercises can be done with no weight through the injured leg.

In my experience, a skilled trainer or therapist can help to modify exercises to allow for effective cardiovascular exercises. In conclusion, I recommend that these 4 Cardio workouts that you can use with an injured leg.  Please consult a medical professional to ensure you can return to sport.

Related Articles: Choosing the correct running shoes and Concentric vs Eccentric Exercises.

JOI and JOI Rehab

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

By: Drew Heideman, PT, ATC

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