Worried about getting back into your exercise routine after you’ve had a fracture? You might be surprised to know that experts say it's one of the best ways to make your bones stronger.
Every day you're off your feet, you're setting yourself up for more fractures down the road, says Margaret Martin, author of the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones. "The faster you can get back to weight-bearing activity, the better."
Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, lace up those sneakers and get started. Just make sure you exercise safely. Here are some guidelines.
What to Do
Choose weight-bearing exercises. Try walking or climbing stairs. It can keep your bones strong and help prevent fractures.
Do resistance training. It boosts muscle mass and strengthens your bones.
"Patients who do intensive resistance exercise for 6-12 months following surgery improve their ability to get up, walk, climb stairs, and do household tasks," says Petros Efthimiou, MD, associate chief of rheumatology at New York Methodist Hospital. Try free weights or weight machines.
Include balance and flexibility exercises. They can help you avoid a fall, which is a common cause of hip fractures. Try yoga, tai chi, and gentle stretching.
Practice good posture. Lift your breastbone and keep your eyes forward. Put your shoulders back and gently pinch your shoulder blades together. Instead of bending from your waist, flex from your hips or knees.
Wear safe shoes. Pick a pair that's made for the activity you've chosen, and make sure they fit properly. Don’t get ones with slippery soles.
What to Avoid
Exercises that have a high risk of falling. On the no-no list: downhill skiing, skating, and contact sports.
Activities that use a twisting motion. That rules out golf.
Sit-ups or toe touches. Exercises that flex or rotate your spine, repeatedly or vigorously, can lead to new fractures.
Heavy lifting during workouts. It puts stress on the bones in your back.
Some exercise machines. Don't use ones that create resistance against your spine or rotate your torso. And take a pass on rowing machines or stationary bicycles with back-and-forth arm movements.
Painful exercise. Stop your workout if you start to hurt.
Personalize Your Plan
Give your body the best chance of healing. Tailor your exercises to your specific fracture with these tips:
Wrist fracture. Start with exercises that improve your range of motion and decrease stiffness, says certified personal trainer Carol Michaels.
But don't do ones that put pressure on your wrist right away. Wait until you can do two sets of wrist curls without discomfort, Michaels says.
Wrist or forearm fracture. Try exercises with a weight band. It puts less stress on your bone or joint while strengthening the muscles, says Melissa Leber, MD, director of emergency sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Shoulder fracture. Do shrugs, rolls, and arm circles to build strength. But don't slouch.
Poor posture can weaken the muscles in your shoulders, Leber says.
Hip fracture. Try leg lifts or hip flexor stretches. Walking is also a good choice because it improves your stability and posture.
Hip or pelvis fracture. Swimming is good for you, but don't lift or push heavy objects.
Ankle fracture. Do exercises that improve your range of motion, like ankle circles, point-and-flex stretches, and writing the letters of the alphabet with your foot.