We know physical activity has many health benefits and helps
reduce our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But what happens
when we're injured? Should we 'keep moving' when we've got a
sprained ankle, iliotibial band issues (ITB) (owwww!), pulled a
hammy, or been struck down with all the other things that could go
Jennifer Egan is an ultra-marathon runner and previously worked
as an occupational therapist and personal trainer. She's now
Diabetes Queensland acting chief operating officer. We asked
Jen about the activities she does while recovering from injury
(she's currently recovering from surgery), as well as how people
can prepare themselves to prevent injuries.
What injury have you had and how did it
'My first running injury was an ITB injury; the iliotibial band
is a band of fascia on the outside of your leg between the hip and
knee, which can get very tight and cause knee pain. For me this was
due to muscle weakness in some of the supporting muscles, so I
worked on strengthening exercises, particularly for my glutes, and
managed to return to running.
'My other big injury has been a stress fracture in my tibia (or
lower leg) which was due to a combination of technique and overuse.
Rest days really are important. I worked with my physio around
technique, but I also cut back my kilometres, changed the surfaces
I ran on, and listened to my body, which all made a big
What rehabilitation did you do to recover from your
'Plan your rehabilitation program with a health-care
professional, using their advice and expertise to determine what
activities you could and should be doing. Determine how often you
should be doing these activities, and when you could progress in
terms of repetitions, weight or distances.
'Remember that progression is the key principle and don't do
more than the plan. That's how you get injured again. Be sensible
about it, and listen to your body.
'For each of my injuries I've done a combination of strength
work as well as other cross-training activities to keep my cardio
up without impacting or putting pressure on the injury.'
How can people with an injury get their 30 min of
physical activity a day?
'First of all, it's important to talk to your GP or health
professional about your rehab program and whether there are any
cross-training activities you can do.
'With my stress fracture I could still swim since it wasn't
putting pressure on my leg so I would try to swim a couple of times
a week until I could start running.
'Your 30 minutes does not need to be the same activity. If you
can't swim for 30 minutes maybe start with a 10 minute swim and a
20 minute walk or cycle. Look for different combinations of
activities to make up the 30 minutes: cycle, swim, walk, run, row,
dance, box. There are so many options.'
What sort of preparation (emotionally, physically,
psychologically) do you do to prevent injuries?
'Injury prevention isn't just about what you do when exercising.
It's far broader than that.
'When exercising it's important to take a balanced approach:
give yourself rest days, ensure you have the correct footwear,
correct technique (see a trainer or coach if unsure) and listen to
your body. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
'It's also important to fuel and hydrate yourself properly
before, during and after exercising.
'Finally it's also important to think about your general
movements and behaviour when not exercising. If you lift boxes at
work frequently, for example, and use the wrong technique you risk
injuring yourself, which will affect your ability to do activities