The other day I ran into a friend as she was leaving a class at the gym. She had a knee brace on and said she was having surgery in a few weeks for a torn meniscus. She was leaving the class early because she could feel something had twisted in her knee. She was attempting to do her normal Zumba class.
After we parted I couldn't help but think "what was she thinking". From my own experience I know how discouraging it can be to have an injury. It's hard not to crawl up in a ball and eat ice cream instead of adjusting and moving anyway. Digging deep to find that motivation despite your less than perfect body can be daunting to say the least. But it is worth the effort. Anything helps but please make smart choices.
If you have a knee injury for instance - it's probably not the wisest thing to go into a class that requires a lot of lateral movement or to try to play a game of basketball. Safer choices may include such things as:
1 - walking - yes, in a straight line as far as you like, as often as you can. Pick your surface. For me, the treadmill works better than the street because of the padding. Walking will work all the muscles you need to support your knee whether its healing or getting ready for a surgery. Remember to pay attention to the way your foot hits the ground - heel first, then roll forward onto your toes and actually push off your toes as you lift and reach your foot forward to the next step. Reach as far forward as you can to get that stretch and really focus on each step to insure stability for an injured knee.
2 - eliptical - with a knee injury the smooth motion, no impact can be very forgiving and the pedals assist you in keeping proper form (no lateral movement). Just be careful not to hunch over the machine and grip hard on the side rails - you don't want to cause an upper back issue.
3 - spinning - yes it may sound crazy but indoor cycling has zero impact and works the muscles you need to help your knees. KEY - make sure you have enough resistance on the pedals - it can be dangerous if the bike spins out of control and pulls your knees. More tension = safer ride.
4 - swimming - yes this can feel odd if you are not a swimmer but being in the water is a pretty safe choice. Get a kick board and just start going. Again, all the muscles you need to support your knee will thank you. But be careful - when you are kicking make sure to keep your toes pointed, get as much resistance from the water as you can to keep good form. Try not to bend your knees very much when you are kicking. The best form would be to use your entire leg - the motion should come all the way from your hip, a straighter leg, pointed toe will give you more power in the water and be safer for your knees. Oddly enough, even if you are in the water - if your kick is sloppy and from merely the knees down you are putting undue stress on your knees.
You decide what works for you but the best thing you can do with any exercise whether injured or not is to do each motion with intention and focus. Use your body wisely to avoid injury. If you have an injury - don't be afraid to find a different type of exercise than you normally do. Think outside the box and continue to move if you can. New ways of thinking can open up whole new avenues to you. True of everything in life.