Having been an instructor for several years now, I’ve encountered all types of injuries in my classes; knee problems, shoulder issues, lower back problems, etc. One of the biggest challenges as an instructor is to accommodate the class for those with injuries and those at different fitness levels. Many people also want to push themselves to do the hardest thing, even when they probably should be modifying (you know who you are!). I generally do not explicitly tell someone when they should modify, but let everyone know they can and should work at their own level.
Showing modifications is definitely something I’ve been trying to work on improving as an instructor. I do think I’ve come a long way since I started, and will continue to try and show modified versions of an exercise when possible. A general rule for modifications, however, is to take something out. For example, if we are doing legs and arms, perhaps remove the legs and do arms alone.
You should always consult with your physician before doing any exercise. I am currently unable to provide any medical diagnoses. Remember: if you experience any pain or discomfort while exercising (here or anywhere else), you should stop immediately. I am not liable for any injuries that may result from exercises on this site.
Here are a few general tips for those with injuries that may be helpful.
Arm/Shoulder problems: You can still do exercises on your good arm! Depending on the extent of your injury, you may want to start without using any weight in the injured arm. For some, you might have limited mobility as well. The most important thing is that you don’t give the healthy arm opportunity to slack off! Obviously, you won’t be able to do certain floor exercises like push-ups or planks, so flip onto your back and work your uninjured arm and/or your abdominals.
Knee problems: Many exercises done on the knees can also be done standing, and will take some of the weight off the knee. Additionally, any squats or lunges should be done with caution. You can modify by staying up higher and taking only slight bends. If you lack mobility in one or both knees, it is even more critical that you move your upper body and arms. This will be the best way to stay in shape with that type of injury.
Hip problems: Depending on how severe this is, you may want to consider not using a versa band throughout these exercises. Be especially careful on any hip stretches. You know your limits- don’t do anything that hurts.
Lower back problems: Generally these stem from weakened abdominals. I have lower back problems, and what’s helped me the most is yoga. It is enormously helpful to work on your abdominals to help the lower back along. Depending on the origin of your issues, physical therapy may be required.