Working Out with a Broken Foot: It's Totally Possible!

Broken Foot, Sore Knee, or Sprained Ankle? No Excuses! You can still get in a great workout.

I got firsthand experience recently helping someone figure out working out with a broken foot. It's important to stay active even while injured. When you are active, you get increased blood flow which promotes healing. You'll also keep the rest of your body fit and healthy while you wait to heal.


A few weeks ago 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.

working out broken footThis is an example of a perfect move to do if you have to work out with a broken foot.

Here are some workout tips for working out with a broken foot:

  • 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 with more strength, try wrist curls/extensors. Also, did you know that there is a full body strength correlation between grip strength and the rest of the body? Take advantage!

  • 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

  • For chest and arms: Bent-knee pushups and dumbbell press and flys

  • For hips: firehydrants or clamshells

  • For arms and shoulders: bicep curl-shoulder press combo, triceps extensions and dips, front and side dumbbell raises on one leg or seated

Just as important as all of 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. Stretching promotes blood flow and healing. It also feels really good! See some stretching tutorials here. If you would like to optimize your stretching routine, consider hiring a personal trainer from our team.

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. Be sure your diet or supplement routine covers these components. Book an appointment with a Nutritionist if you aren't sure how to eat to optimize your healing. It can get complicated, but with the help of an expert, you'll be as good as new in no time!

Check out this happy text from one of our nutrition clients!

weight loss with a broken foot

Broken foot aside, please don’t get discouraged - before you know it, you’ll be back once again on both your feet! And any workouts you manage to do while you're waiting for your body to heal will really pay off!

Core Exercises are Perfect for When You Have a Lower Body Injury

gina paulhus corrective exercise

work out with cast on foot

Most of our trainers have had to work out with a boot or cast! I know I have! Get a Price Quote on a session where you can learn your own home workout routine, conducted via Zoom or Facetime or in person in select locations. We also offer in-person visits in select locations. You can always book a Free 15-minute Consultation if you want help in discovering what you need.

dawn boulay fitness trainer

Article by Dawn Boulay, Home Bodies trainer and personal chef.

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Would you like to learn more about best practices for working out with a broken foot?

working out castA broken foot is no excuse to skip your workout - I promise.

Check out our new book Change Your Weighs where we cover all types of tips and tricks that you can learn while your body is in healing mode! Knowledge is power, and taking time to learn more about your body will always pay off with your fitness results.