I’ve touted the benefits of picking up heavy things, namely how deadlifts and squats build strength quite effectively. But what if you have an injury (or two)? Personally, squats/deadlifts aggravate my injuries to the point where my back gives me the finger for a week and my hips refuse to move without protestation. My body’s made it abundantly clear that my squatting and deadlifting days are over.
Maybe your injuries are temporary (yay!) or chronic (boo!) but they shouldn’t stop you from getting your lift on! No more shall we say, “I can’t” because of a cranky back/hip/knee/ankle because you can always train around an injury. The following are some lifts I do to keep my lower body strong. In no way is this an comprehensive list but just a few to kick start your training.
Safe for: back, most* hips, knees and ankles
Key Points: Hinge at your hips NOT your back.
CRACK your walnut on the upswing, hips and glutes should be the workhorse for this movement
Keep your low back arched and your upper back tight!
Benefits: GREAT posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back) developer without overloading the spine. Can also be used for conditioning/cardio.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift (SLRDL)
Safe for: back, hips, knees and ankles
Key Points: Shove your hips back first and dig into your working-leg heel
Keep abs, upper back and non-working glute tight
Think about driving your non-working heel into the ceiling; you should be a straight line from head to heel the whole time
Pull your hip through (to start position) by squeezing your working-leg glute HARD
Benefits: Delightful for the posterior chain (you’ll feel it the next day… or two). The single leg stance puts less stress on your spine and challenges your midsection to stabilize. Extra work on spinal stabilization is always a good thing. SL work also helps smooth out muscular imbalances that could be contributing to pain.
Safe for: back, hips, most* knees, most*ankles
Key points: Keep your front heel down, no twinkle toes!
Squeeze your butt as you step back and pull your hips through (like the SL RDL) as you stand.
Tall chest, be proud of your…well… T-shirt.
Benefits: Strengthens (any guesses?) the posterior chain! Yay! (anyone picking up on a theme?) This one also strengthens quads a bit too.
Barbell Glute Bridge:
Safe for: most* backs, hips, knees and ankles
Key Points: CRACK DEM WALNUTS!! Brace your abs out against the barbell so you don’t hyperextend your back.
Benefits: For those of us who miss heavy barbells here’s our chance to load that sucker up! (wisely) Trains… the posterior chain!
Safe for: back, hips, most* knees, and most* ankles
Key Points: Um… push. Light for speed, heavy for strength.
Benefits: Strengthens the… quads! (sike!) An especial challenge to the ol’ ticker and lungs. Excellent conditioning tool for those who loathe running.
- Train these movements (except swings) as you would a deadlift or squat. Load them heavy, keep the reps between 5-8 and prioritize them in your workout.
- Unilateral injury? Train the other leg as you’re able.
- All of these lifts are ones EVERYONE should be doing anyway in a well-rounded training program.
Hopefully this post helped give you some ideas of how to train around an injury until it heals or train for strength while not letting chronic injuries slow you down.
Strong girls win!
*most* meaning, know thyself. If it hurts, don’t do it.