Exercise is a daily part of life for many people. Some individuals work out to stay fit and improve their mobility while others enjoy the mental health benefits of running, swimming, and participating in other forms of exercise. However, after a car accident, it can be confusing to know whether or not it is safe to exercise — and how working out can potentially affect a claim.
More than 5.4 million Americans sought medical help after a crash in 2021, and many of those injuries had lasting effects. Motor vehicle injury costs were around $498.3 billion nationally, which includes medical expenses, wage loss, and motor vehicle property damage. There’s so much to do in the wake of a car crash that it can be difficult to know what activities you can continue to enjoy.
There are times when exercising during recovery can be beneficial; however, this can also potentially harm the settlement and even impact your health. Use this guide to learn about the benefits and potential risks of exercising after an accident.
How Will Exercising Too Soon Affect Your Car Accident Settlement?
During the claims process, insurance companies will evaluate the extent of the damage and your injuries to determine how much money you need to complete the recovery process. It is in the best interest of the insurance company to discover that your injuries are minor and that you can quickly return to work and your favorite everyday activities because it means they won’t need to pay out as much money.
This is one of the biggest dangers of exercising immediately after a car accident — your insurer will see that you can exercise just fine and will record that your injuries are minor.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise at all following a car accident, but rather that you should take precautions in how you exercise. For example, if you visit a local gym, you are working out in a public place with an active log of visits. Instead, you might want to work out at home or work with a private personal trainer who can recommend exercises that won’t exacerbate your injuries. This shows that you are trying to resume normal life but can’t because of your injuries.
The nuances of different types of accidents and associated injuries can directly impact the claims and settlement process. This is why it’s important to solicit help from bicycle injury attornies, semi-truck or commercial vehicle accident lawyers, or even getting familiar with a car accident settlement guide depending on the nature of your crash.
Along with consulting a lawyer to learn what forms of exercise you can do, make sure you follow their directions to document your recovery process. Keep detailed records of doctor’s visits, document any pain or discomfort you feel, and avoid physical activities that could worsen the injury. If you exercise for your mental health — like going for a run after a stressful work day — make notes of when you wanted to exercise but couldn’t because of your injuries. This proves that your discomfort is severe enough to impact your day-to-day life.
Exercise can affect multiple types of injuries, which means you might not realize you are worsening your condition without realizing it. Never participate in an exercise without your doctor’s explicit approval. Otherwise, you could worsen your injury while working out, which means the settlement might not cover it because the worsened condition is no longer related to the accident.
What Are the Potential Risks of Exercising Too Soon?
It is completely understandable that you want to start exercising again as soon as possible, but there are serious risks that come with working out after a recent injury. During the exercise process, you can potentially damage the muscles around your injury.
You can reaggravate wounds that weren’t fully healed or damage other muscles that have to make up for the ones impacted by the accident. You often see this in professional athletes who are eager to get back on the field — they return to play too soon instead of waiting to fully heal, which causes them to reinjure themselves within a few games.
Many car accident injuries aren’t visible like a cut or a bruise — so you can’t see if they are fully healed or not. Common problems, like whiplash, back injuries, and concussions, can have lasting damage that takes months to heal. Even if you feel good one day, you still aren’t ready to push your body to its limits.
Make sure you wait for a doctor’s clearance to start exercising, and even then, choose light workouts to help your body adapt to moving again. You should also work with your personal injury attorney if you experience any injuries after a car accident. They can help you understand why exercising is risky and highlight ways you can still work out without further harming yourself.
Exercises That Must Be Avoided
Exercises come with various levels of risk, both to your injury and your claim. While you might be able to enjoy some exercises — like taking a short walk around your neighborhood — others need to be avoided completely until your claim is processed and approved. Here are a few things to avoid:
- Contact sports: These include sports like rugby, football, basketball, soccer, and other sports where you might come into contact with another player or hit the ground.
- Impact sports: Running and jogging are considered high-impact sports because you are pounding your feet into the pavement, which can affect your legs, back, and neck.
- Weight lifting: Not only can lifting weights aggravate an injury, but it can also impact secondary muscles that are used. For example, squats use more than just your leg muscles. They also involve your back, arms, shoulders, and core.
- Exercise classes: Group workouts like Zumba and HIIT training can worsen an injury because participants are trying to keep up with the class. Your teacher also might not have modifications for each injury or could be unaware of your needs.
- Intense stretching activities: Some yoga poses can actually hurt your back and worsen injuries. Make sure your stretches are recommended by a physical therapist.
While this list covers a lot of exercises, there are actually some workouts that your doctor might recommend. Swimming and water aerobics are two popular options for people recovering from injuries because they take pressure off of your joints and muscles. Your doctor also might approve you to take up light cycling as a cardio alternative to running.
When Should You Consult a Lawyer?
The days and weeks following a car accident can be overwhelming for anyone. There are times when insurance companies seem to intentionally confuse and frustrate people who file claims for accidents. One of the best things you can do after an accident is seek legal advice. Work with an expert lawyer who thoroughly understands the claims process and who can effectively negotiate your car accident injury settlement.
A qualified lawyer can help you navigate the claims process while ensuring you get the best possible settlement. They know this system inside and out, so you don’t have to. A few specialties that car accident lawyers have include rear-end accidents, ride-share crashes related to Uber and Lyft, T-bone crashes, and pedestrian accidents.
Your lawyer can guide you through complicated insurance terms, help you submit paperwork on tight deadlines, and make the process more bearable. They can also help you understand the risks of exercising while providing alternative options so you can still work out.
You don’t have to navigate the insurance claims process alone. Find a trusted legal partner who can get you the settlement you need.