I spent the better part of 2017 and 2018 crocked. First it was a wrist injury that eventually I could no longer ignore, then it was a dislocated shoulder that reached the point where I could no longer train through the pain. Noticing a pattern of stupidity here? Yup, even after years of being a fitness editor and even though I was finishing up my personal training certificate at the time, my first instinct when I hurt my joints was to soldier on. Why? Because I didn’t want to admit weakness. Because I love exercise and I didn’t want a physio to tell me to stop. Because I figured if I just ignored the problem it would go away. Reeeal sound logic, that one.
You Can Still Train, Just Differently
Of course my martyrdom was complete idiocy. Because in most cases, it’s totally possible to stay active. You just need to change up what you’re doing. That could mean switching up which exercises you do or even just tweaking how you perform certain moves to be easier on your joints. Here are three exercise variations to address common pains.
Your Wrists Hurt During Push-Ups
Solution: Try gripping dumbbells
When I hurt my wrist, any pressure against my flat hand was a no-go area. That meant push-ups, handstands and high planks were out. Gripping dumbbells keeps your wrists in a neutral position, taking some pressure off those small joints. Also be sure to warm you wrists up properly before a workout. You warm up your bigger joints, so show the small ones some love too!
Squats Hurt Your Lower Back
Solution: Try split squats
If you’re a regular reader of WH you’ll know that any time we describe a squat, it starts with sitting your hips back and keeping your chest up. But if you’re susceptible to lower-back pain, this position might cause a little discomfort. The split squat has you moving straight up and down, with your torso permanently upright, reducing the pressure on your lower back. Swap legs halfway through your set or every other set if you’re doing an even number. Also be sure to engage your core. Often, lower-back pain results from lazy abs in front making not supporting the muscles in the back.
Lunges Are Murder On The Knees
Solution: Rear lunges
Lunging forward takes your weight forward, loading your knees. Making sure your knee doesn’t jut past your ankle can help, but it requires engaging the muscles at the back of your legs to control the movement. If you’re not used to engaging those muscles — and many women tend to be quad dominant, meaning we favour the muscles in the front of our thighs — you might struggle with that. Lunging backwards takes your weight back, automatically engaging those rear muscles.