Top Three Cardio Exercises With A Lower Limb Injury

If you have an injury to your leg it can be really frustrating not being able to exercise the way you want to. If you have an ankle, knee or hip joint or muscle injury, it can seem like all your regular cardio workouts are off the table. And there’s good reason for this as high impact jumping and dynamic multi-directional sports will aggravate your condition, so you’ll definitely want to avoid these.

But this doesn’t mean that you should just rest and not get a sweat on until your injury repairs. In fact, doing hard cardio-focused exercise that doesn’t aggravate your specific lower limb injury will actually promote healing and give you the added benefit of the mental and emotional well-being that comes with getting your heart rate up and getting a sweat on.

As Physiotherapists we have a lot of experience in knowing exactly what you can and can’t do depending on your specific diagnosis.  We can often give patients the go-ahead to get started on certain low impact exercises that we know won’t flare up their condition.

The cardio exercises below are a good place to start on your search for lower impact exercises to get your heart rate up.


Swimming is a low impact exercise that may be possible depending on your injury. If your upper limb function is pain free, you can put a buoy or floatation device around your feet and still swim freestyle pain-free. This allows you to get your heart rate up and exercise hard. Alternatively, depending on your injury, small kicks may not aggravate your lower limb condition either

Dual Exercise Bike (or cycle ergometer) using arms only

Dual exercise bikes are one of the hardest cardio workouts out there. Take away those powerful quads and use your arms alone and 15 minutes on this and you’ll be sweating bullets, that’s for sure! Most gyms will have a bunch of these bikes so they’re an easy, accessible option. The best thing about it is your legs can just sit up out of the way you’re just peddling with your arms, or you can place them on the peddles without putting pressure on them and get a nice gentle stretch.

Stationary Bike or Elliptical Machine

Again, depending on the injury often it is possible to get started on one of these machines relatively soon after your injury. The great thing about it is there’s low impact going through your lower limb joints and musculature. Additionally you can tailor the resistance to suit you allowing you to work as hard as your injury will allow.

Too often we see people that are overly cautious about working out after having an injury and don’t realise that there are alternative options for cardio workouts. As physiotherapists we have a great deal of experience with guiding you through the recovery process and explaining what you should and shouldn’t do for your specific injury. Come in an see our Physio’s at Bend + Mend, and don’t let an injury set your overall health back.

James Dedman

About James Dedman

After graduating from the university of Sydney in 2011 James has worked as a Physiotherapist at RPA Hospital and private practices in both Sydney and Cairns, North Qld. James is an accredited integrated dry needling practitioner and has also completed further training in shoulder injuries and neural dynamic testing. When he’s not helping his patients return to their pre-injury levels you’ll find James playing indoor + outdoor soccer (football), netball, Ultimate Frisbee and barracking for his beloved Sydney F.C. in “The Cove.” As an avid sports lover, James understands the frustration of injuries and goes the extra mile to get you back on the field, track or court.

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