Broken Foot, Sore Knee, or Sprained Ankle? No Excuses! You can still get
a great workout.
by Dawn Boulay, Head Trainer, Master Trainer, ACSM certified
Recently my boyfriend broke his foot, leaving him to hobble around on crutches. Needless to say, this seriously interrupted his exercise routine. Rather than become deconditioned, we made adjustments to the exercise routine.
Looking on the bright side, there are a few benefits (if you can call them that!) to walking on crutches. Walking with crutches is more cardio-intensive than walking on your own two feet, i.e. a 150 lb. person on crutches burns approximately 340 calories per hour, versus an able 150 lb. person walking at a moderate 3 mph (walking-the-dog) pace, burns about 225 calories/hour.
Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout, an overall body strengthener, and the weightless aspect is good for gently moving the injured body part to maintain range of motion. If you are not able to move the injured body part safely, a float between the legs can help.
Other cardio workouts include the rowing machine (otherwise known as the ‘erg’) - if you are not able to use your leg/foot, you can use the seat in a stable position and row with the upper body to get the heart pumping. Perhaps your gym has an upper body ergometer at the gym which is basically a bicycle for the arms.
Once you get over the initial soreness, the crutches actually help build abdominal and upper body strength. To strengthen the forearms and wrists for grasping the crutches, try wrist curls/extensors.
Wrist curls/extensors are performed holding dumbbells. Stabilize the forearm on a bench or chair and perform a few sets of 20 palm up, then 20 palm down. You will need more weight for the palm up variety.
Hand grip strengthener. Squeeze a tennis ball for 20 seconds, then release, repeat 1 dozen times, and repeat the whole set several times throughout the day.
Other exercises you should be able to do because they are performed seated, or lying down with dumbbells, tubing, stability ball, etc. include:
• For back: Bent-over seated rows, reverse flys, supermans
• For abs: Bicycle crunches, oblique crunches, knee-up crunches, lying down leg raises/lowering with stability ball between the ankles
• Bent-knee pushups and dumbbell press and flys for chest, arms, back
• For arms and shoulders: bicep curl-shoulder press combo, triceps extensions and dips, front and side dumbbell raises
Just as important as all the above is STRETCHING. Every day, perform overall body stretches for 10 minutes before you get out of bed in the morning, and stretch in the bed for 10 minutes before you go to sleep.
Also, sound nutrition really promotes healing. During the healing process, the body needs increased amounts of calories, protein, vitamins A and C, and sometimes, the mineral, zinc. Go here for specific nutritional guidelines for healing: Nutrional guidelines for healing_to_improve_wound_healing.aspxDon’t get discouraged - before you know it, you’ll be back on both your feet!