How to Get In Your Cardio When Injured

One of the biggest fears runners have, besides those unbearably painful shin splints we talked about here, is having an injury costing you to quit or take a break from running. An injury so bad you are now required by the doctor to stop running and doing other forms of high-impact exercise.

To many runners this is can be torture. Fear of losing your hard earned progress thus far, fear of gaining weight, fear of losing strength and speed, or fear of going crazy not being allowed to relieve your stress through running.

The worst thing you can do is give up, to not workout at all; this will not only be bad for your health, but can destroy that motivation you once had. Losing your motivation will keep you from working out even when you injury heals.

It’s also so important not to give up because cardio is so crucial to any fitness plan, as stated in this article here, it not only burns calories and builds the cardiovascular system, but cardio can also help to burn fat and build muscle. So it is important to be able to still get in your cardio even in the unfortunate case you are injured.

Before you do any exercise after an injury, you should be sure to get the approval and recommendations from your treating physician or therapist. Follow their recommendations for when you can resume exercise, how much and what type of exercise is best.

Here are a few recommendations on How to Get In Your Cardio When Injured:


Swimming is a great low-impact workout that is easy on the joints and body. Another great option when it comes to the water is deep-water running, it is a great way to get in your cardio if running is your main form of cardiovascular exercise. According to this article from, “studies show that runners who run in deep water maintain their cardiovascular fitness.”

Deep-water running is performed by mimicking a running motion under water while using a flotation device to remain in an upright position. Although your heart rate will be decreased about 10% for the same level of exertion that you are used to, it is easy on the body and still helps to get in some sort of cardio.


Rowing Machine/Ergometers:

In this article recommends trying arm ergometers, which are also called ergometers, “which are bicycles that have arm pedals instead of leg pedals for movement.” Now these would only work if your injury was on the lower half, as most runners’ injuries are. Ergometers help you to still get in a cardiovascular workout, as engaging your upper body muscles and core is going to increase your heart rate, and also helps you to get in a good calorie burn. These are great machines for an upper body workout even if you are not injured.



Depending on how severe your injury may be, walking can be a great substitute for your daily runs. According to this article from, how you walk may further your injury or actually be the cause of your injury. They suggest “practicing using your leg muscles to hold your legs in correct position, without too much weight rolling in or out, with your feet pointing forward. Distribute your body weight over the sole of your foot without flattening your arches.”


Elliptical Machines:

If you are suffering from a knee injury, elliptical machines can be a great option for cardio. The foot pedals require no impact on your knees since you are not lifting and lowering your legs as you do with running. The forward motion of the elliptical still allows you to mimic the walking and running motions, without all the pressure on your joints.


Avoid any exercises that have to do with any quick, sudden movements or jumps and pivots. As well as avoid any exercises that cause further pain to your injury, it is better to sit out for a bit and heal rather than further damaging your injury.

Always be sure to ask your physician after they evaluate your particular injury before you start any exercise regimen. They will be able to give you some ideas as to what exercises are best, and which to avoid for your particular injury.



Written By: Jentry