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Avid athletes and other active people dread injuries — not only for the obvious pain, but also because it sidelines them and prevents them from participating in their sport or favorite activities. A fractured foot is especially problematic because it eliminates a long list of foot-related exercises, such as walking, running, and lifting weights.
Whether you have a stress fracture in your heel or you’ve broken one of the 26 bones in your foot, it can take several weeks to several months to heal. That’s a long time to remain sedentary, and it could undo all of your hard work toward building muscle strength and optimal health.
Dr. Matthew Cerniglia and our Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas team understand your dilemma and offer insightful tips for keeping your workouts on track as your fractured foot heals. Remember, though, that every foot injury is different, so talk to Dr. Cerniglia about the activities you want to do before doing them to avoid further injury and healing setbacks.
You just walked out of our office with a big boot on your fractured foot, and you’re bummed because you think you’re in for weeks of sitting on the sidelines while your quads shrink and you lose your cardio endurance — not so!
Flip the switch in your mind and consider your foot fracture as an opportunity to focus on some muscle groups you may overlook in your normal routine. Most athletes and active people have areas of weakness that don’t get much attention; now is the time to fix that.
Although you’ll have to get creative and incorporate activities that don’t put too much pressure on your foot, there’s a lot you can do to ramp up your cardio game and keep your muscles strong and limber. You may even end up in better shape than before you fractured your foot.
You won’t be running or speed walking while your foot heals, but that doesn’t mean you have to let the cardio side of your workouts slide. If Dr. Cerniglia gives you the green light, you can keep up your cardio by swimming instead of running. The water’s buoyancy relieves the pressure from your foot while your heart gets a workout.
You may also be allowed to cycle — again, check with Dr. Cerniglia. Whether you favor the stationary bike at your gym or like to freewheel in the great outdoors, most folks with a fractured foot can safely cycle even in a boot.
From your pelvis to your ribs, from your lower back to your stomach, the midsection of your torso comprises your core muscles, and if yours are weak, every activity you do suffers. Strong core muscles help you stay balanced and stable, so your core is key whether you’re swinging a golf club, running a marathon, or lifting young children into your arms.
Because core exercises don’t require equipment and you can perform them while lying on your back, they’re excellent choices while recovering from a foot fracture.
Legs get a lot of attention in the gym — those big muscles are fun to work hard. But your fractured foot can’t take the weight for a while, so now is the time to focus on your arms, chest, back, and abs.
You can do biceps curls, bench presses, triceps extensions, and shoulder raises, even with your foot in a boot.
There’s nothing like yoga to elongate your muscles, strengthen your core, and improve your balance — and you can do most of the poses on your one good foot (hold onto a chair or wall for balance) or with no feet at all (on your back or stomach).
In fact, studies show that the workout you give your healthy foot and leg may transfer to your injured foot.
As a double-board-certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Cerniglia is one of the nation’s leading experts in his field and specializes in diagnosing and treating complex foot problems. When it comes to fractures, he always takes the most conservative route first and doesn’t resort to surgery unless absolutely necessary.
He typically immobilizes your foot with a brace, cast, splint, or boot and monitors the bones to ensure they heal properly.
If you need surgical intervention, your foot couldn’t be in better hands. Dr. Cerniglia uses minimally invasive surgical techniques whenever possible but is also highly skilled at reconstructive foot surgery — in fact, he’s one of fewer than 1% of elite physicians who perform this complicated procedure.
For expert foot fracture treatment and more tips on staying active during your recovery, call or request an appointment online at Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas in Fort Worth.