How to stay mentally and physically active while on crutches

How to Stay Mentally and Physically Active While on Crutches

Running on crutches

Oh no… I’m going to be on crutches for how long?

Being injured comes with its own set of problems.   These problems are not the first issues that would come to mind when we hear the dreaded news that a crutch must be worn for a few weeks or more.   Normally, we would think of issues such as mobility, staying sanitary and possibly how much the cast is going to itch.   One of the most important factors for using crutches for any length of time is fitness.   Gaining weight while using crutches can seriously impact on the healing of your body, as well as the sanity of your mind.   The added weight may impact your joints negatively.    For both the extremely active and the barely active individual the wait for restored normal mobility could be a most frustrating process.    There is light at the end of the tunnel though and it comes in the form of changing your exercise routine for the duration of your injury.     As with any change in a workout routine, it is necessary to talk to your physician before attempting any changes.    The importance of properly fitted crutches is of utmost important during crutch-aided exercises.  The possibility of further injuring yourself is imminent if the walking aids are not fitted correctly. 

Keep your brain sharp!

Before the mention of some great tips for crutch activity, it is needed to mention that mental health is equally as important as physical health during this process.   The inability to perform mundane tasks and your usual routine may cause you distress, frustration and possibly a small amount of depression.    Remember that eventually, with good habits and rest, you will get back to your normal schedule.   You may not start where you left off and it may be a good challenge to build yourself back to the strength and fitness you were originally at.   You do have the opportunity to strengthen muscles that you perhaps didn’t normally consider in your original workout while ensuring that you are resting and healing while on your journey to get back in the saddle of your regular life.    Did we mention that the brain is a muscle too?  Try a few of the following brain or outreach activities to keep your mind and spirit strong. 

  • Read a book you haven’t had the time to
  • Close your eyes and listen to music
  • Teach yourself a foreign language
  • Do a puzzle
  • Find a hobby that requires you to use fine motor skills. g. Knitting or painting
  • Try using meditation to keep positive
  • Find a local charity that could use the skills you have

Hit the road Jack!

Walking on your crutches will be a great form of exercise since you are using a group of muscles that weren’t normally used.   Your triceps, deltoids, and trapezius are being used more frequently and therefore you may have some muscle groups getting stronger through your crutch use term.  The height of your crutches is very important during walking for exercise or for general use.   Start by taking short walks which you can increase in length at your own pace.   This is a fantastic form of cardio.    If your supports are not at the correct height you may be doing damage to the nerves in your body, so pay attention to any new pain sensations you may feel.   Also, your elbows are taking a lot of strain due to the frequent pressure on them, so ensure that any pain gets assessed by your physician.      Another great exercise would be ascending and descending stairs.  This is bound to her your heart rate increasing. Make sure you have the right equipment for the job! 

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise during a term of injury but may be limited due to the type of injury you have.   Any surgery patient should wait for the healing process on stitches to be complete before dipping in the pool.    The weightlessness on your limb will make it easier for you to exercise while in the water.   Waterproof cast covers have been developed for those who worry about that issue. 

Contrary to popular belief, the gym is not a forbidden area when you’re on crutches.   This gives you the perfect opportunity to concentrate on upper body exercises.    It’s time to work the biceps, abdominals, deltoids, pectorals and laterals.   Dumbbells arm resistance exercise’s and simple abdominal presses and crunches can be highly effective to train and tone your upper body.   The increases strength you gain from working these muscles will help you walk on your crutches easier too. 

A great way to lift your spirits and fitness level is to take a walk in the park or the great outdoors.   It’s recommended that you take an accomplice, just in case.    The fresh air and exercise will lift easily low spirits and provide you with a much-needed increase in heart rate.    Even if you don’t manage to walk around, sometimes it’s just good for the soul to get away from your normal resting environment.  

I Donut know what a diet is.

Another important aspect to ensure that you are leading an active lifestyle while you heal is to make sure you continue to follow a healthy eating plan.   The temptation to grab a bag of chips and loaf on the couch all day might be all too tempting when you have an excuse as to why you would be there.   Keep in mind that the healthier you eat while recovering, the easier it will be to get back into your normal routine when you are healed.   Healthy eating will also assist the body in healing quicker, therefore it’s a win-win situation!

Go with the flow.

All in all, it’s important to keep yourself mentally and physically well during your healing process.   Any form of exercise that does not negatively impact on your healing will do wonders for the soul.  Make sure you are following your post-op instructions carefully.   Don’t forget to take some time out just to enjoy the slower pace just a little.   


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