Working out with a broken foot: it's totally possible!

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

I got firsthand experience recently helping someone figure out working out with a broken foot.

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.

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 arms and shoulders: bicep curl-shoulder press combo, triceps extensions and dips, front and side dumbbell raises

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.

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 you are doing in that area.

Broken foot aside, please don’t get discouraged - before you know it, you’ll be back once again on both your feet! 

Would you like assistance in more best practices 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!

work out with cast on foot

Most of our trainers have already 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.

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

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