How to stay in shape while injured.

It has been 5 months since my right knee arthroscopy. I can finally jog for a bit, 5 minutes every week without pain. Now that I think about it, I haven’t run or jumped pain free since August 2017.  I still have a long way to go, but progress is progress. The worst part of my injury is I can’t workout and worried about losing all my hard earned progress.

Although there are other ways to be in shape, high intensity training is one of the fast ways to lose weight and get fit.  When your knee joint is degenerating or it is unstable, it can wreak havoc or your day to day activities. To make matters worse, knee injuries and injuries can delay or halt your exercise regime. No high intensity training when your body hurts.

When you are injured, you can’t do what you want to do.

After my surgery, I had to stay off my feet for 6 weeks. I was filled with pain killers, the bed became my home. My mind went crazy. For someone like me or someone who plays sports, injuries are crippling. I wanted to get back out there. I experienced muscle atrophy in my quad, hips, and hamstring. You know what they say if you don’t use it, you lose it and boy I lost a lot.

Now that I am back in routine, I have slowly gained back strength in my leg muscles again. I have been injured before, but this time I made sure to stay in some sort of shape. I gained about 2-3 lbs. Last time, I gained 10.

During recovery, many people find they have gained weight or they are not as in shape as they used to be. Brace yourself, weight gain will probably happen and you will not have the same endurance or muscle mass before injury. It is okay.

Can you honestly stay in shape while injured?

Honestly, you can’t. I know that sucks to hear, but it is the truth. There is no way you can preserve your muscle and cardiovascular without using your body.  Sure, you can take about 2 weeks off of exercise and not lose too much, but anything over a month, it is a wrap.

The best thing to do when injured is listen to your body, I know that I beat this like a dead horse, but you must listen to your body. If you don’t listen, you will not heal.

Make sure you are drinking enough water and liquids, at this state your body needs fluid and an adequate amount of rest. Your cells need to be repaired, especially if you have gotten surgery.

Check out one of my latest posts about how to prevent injury when doing home workouts. 

But I can’t wait

If you are dead set on staying in shape, talk to your surgeon or physical therapist about exercises you can do to maintain muscle mass, when injured your doctor might recommend isometrics.

For example, my physical therapist recommended me to do quad squeezes, so my quads could still remember to fire properly. Remember, after surgery I had a terrible range of motion. The best bet is weight as you have full range of motion (pain free) before getting back.

If you have a less severe injury, you might be able to workout other parts of the body that the injury doesn’t affect, like, if you have lower extremity injury you can work out your upper extremity and vice versa. Be mindful and take things slow. The last thing you want to do is go too fast and your injury never heals or you have a new injury.

I would recommend only exercising after you have consulted with your physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon. They know what is best. Don’t go by immediate feelings, take things day by day. Also,  make sure you are doing your rehab program to gain the strength you need.  Don’t forget to Stretch! 

While injured, ease off the distractions. It is easy to mindlessly eat while couch surfing or watching Netflix. Set a timer when you need to eat and when you are hungry, drink low calorie and unsweetened beverages and teas.

Should I change up my diet since I can’t exercise?

You still need to get proper nutrition when injured. You may need to reduce your caloric  intake since you aren’t expanding as many calories you are taking in. For me, I followed  a strict diet that included no processed foods, soda, and or candy. I am not a nutritionist, so if you want to  change up your diet I would consult with one before you change your eating habits.

It would be smart to not pig out while you are injured or overeat. At this point, calories are more important than calories out. I think this is the best time to start your food journey, because since you are in a stagnant state your appetite tends to decrease. If your appetite does increase, ask your doctor,  are there side effects to the medicine you are taking.

Have you heard of muscle memory?

Our bodies are so badass that it remembers how it used to be. So, if you do get out of shape, once you get back into an exercise rhythm those muscles that you previously had will come back. But they will only come back if you stay committed to getting back where you used to be but BETTER. 


It is almost impossible to stay in your best shape while injured. I know it doesn’t feel good to hear that right now, but know that the light is at the end of the tunnel and you can get better and heal. The best way to heal faster is to take your time, do your PHYSICAL THERAPY EXERCISE, and gain your strength and range of motion back.

The best way to do all of this is take your time and try to ease your mind.

You got this,


Updated post 3/9/2021 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.