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Physical Therapy with crutches

7 Exercises to Help You Stay in Shape While on Crutches

When you’ve worked hard to make health and exercise a priority in your life, getting injured and ending up on crutches can seem like a major setback. 

If you’re itching to start moving again, we have some great news: you can exercise while on crutches. 

To maintain your physical fitness during the healing process, try out these exercises, all of which can be performed while on crutches. 

1. Arm Exercises

Some of the best exercises while on crutches are arm exercises as they don’t require you to put any weight or pressure on your injured leg. Working out with arm exercises helps you maintain both cardio and upper body strength. Some great upper body exercises include: 

    • Front arm raises
    • Sidearm raises
    • Lat pulldowns
    • Arm circles
    • Shoulder shrugs
    • Bicep curls
  • Shoulder press

There are dozens of arm exercises you can do while on crutches. You can continue to build arm strength despite your leg injury if you use your healing time to try new exercises and work muscles you might not normally train.

2. Light Walking

If your injury allows, light walking while on crutches is a good option for getting in some cardio. 

If your injury is non-weight bearing, don’t worry. The iWALK 2.0 mobility device offers great support for injuries below the knee. This handless crutch enables you to easily move around the gym and will make it possible for you to get back to walking while you’re on crutches.

3. Ab and Core Exercises

Another great group of exercises to perform while on crutches involve your core. 

The Mayo Clinic recommends building abdominal strength to help improve posture, reduce muscle injuries, and improve back pain. Since core stability is essential, especially while you’re on crutches, improve ab strength with these exercises:

    • Sit-ups
    • V-sit ups
    • Roll-ups
  • Side bends

Combining core exercises with upper body exercises and weight training will help you maintain good overall fitness while you’re on crutches. 

4. Cardio Exercises

In addition to building strength with core and weight training, getting some cardio exercise is essential for maintaining good health. 

Lifting weights

Getting cardio exercise while on crutches requires some creativity, but it is possible. Bring this list of upper-body cardio exercises to your doctor or physical therapist to see what they recommend for you:

    • Arm bike/upper-body ergometer
    • Walking with a hands-free crutch
    • Arm circles
    • Punching (kickboxing with the upper body)
  • Battle Ropes

You may also wonder, “is walking on crutches good exercise?” The answer is: absolutely!

Walking on crutches certainly qualifies as exercise because it requires a lot of upper body strength and burns more calories than walking without crutches does. However, using crutches incorrectly during cardio exercise can cause underarm pain, result in underarm nerve damage, and pose a risk to your injured leg.

The iWALK 2.0 mobility device solves these issues. It makes walking comfortable for those with injuries below the knee. This handless crutch allows you to quickly get back to walking, and makes it easier to move around at the gym while you’re exercising. It also provides incredible stability without putting any pressure under your arms, making it safe and pain-free to use. 

5. Leg Exercises (With Caution)

Depending on the type of injury you have, you may be able to do some low impact leg exercises while on crutches. 

Some leg exercises on crutches might include a variety of leg lifts or resistance band training. However, performing improper movements repetitively can slow your recovery process and keep you on crutches for longer. For this reason, always consult with your doctor and physical therapist before doing any leg exercises while on crutches. 

6. Aquatic Exercises

If you’re looking for an option that doesn’t require the use of crutches, aquatic exercises can be a great fit. Working out in a pool allows those with injuries to perform effective low impact exercises. Talk to your doctor and physical therapist to see if aquatic exercises are right for your situation. 

7. Full-Body Chair Exercises

If your injury has kept you chair-bound, it’s still possible to exercise.

Chair exercises can be modified for intensity or if you need to avoid using your legs entirely.

YouTube has some great seated cardio workout videos that show you how to engage in a full-body cardio workout while in a chair. We’ve included chair workouts in this list of exercises on crutches because they’ll help those with injuries to stay in shape during recovery. 

Stay in Shape Doing Exercises on Crutches

Getting enough exercise while on crutches requires some additional planning and effort, but it’s worth maintaining your health. No matter your current fitness level, doing exercises on crutches can help you maintain your health during the healing process.  

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