Here’s How to Exercise – Including Doing Cardio – with a Hurt or Broken Foot.

This includes minimizing pain and modifying workouts if you’re wearing a boot.

Every day we have patients ask us how they can continue exercising when they have an injured foot or ankle. This page is a guide for anyone who has an ankle or foot injury and wants to continue exercising. Even if you are in great shape and exercise intensely, we can help you maintain your fitness. You may have to make some changes in your activities, but we can help you find an effective way to exercise.

Discuss all of these techniques with your primary care doctor before starting an exercise program. What we are presenting here are general guidelines. Depending on your injury and your fitness, adjustments may be necessary. Now let’s look at how to best exercise with a foot injury.

What are the Most Efficient Ways to Exercise with a Foot or Ankle Injury?

First, we need to look at what most research shows to be the most effective exercises. Again this can vary depending on your exercise goals, but for burning calories, weight loss and cardiac health more and more studies are showing the following two types of exercise are the most effective:

  • Interval Training: Interval training is a powerful tool for both beginner and advanced exercisers. In interval training you are alternately increasing and decreasing your heart rate. For example, if you walk, you may incorporate short bouts of jogging. Interval training can burn up to twice the calories compared to exercising at the same speed throughout the activity.
  • Strength Training: Strength training is important for everyone. A regular strength training program will help you reduce body fat, increase your lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently. Many studies show that strength training is every bit as important as cardio exercise for weight loss and cardiac health. Strength training becomes even more important as we get older in order to prevent the muscle loss that naturally occurs as we age.

What this means is that if we can combine interval with strength training then we can develop a very effective exercise program that gives you both a cardio and a weight workout and burns calories at a much higher rate than other forms of exercise. Now we need to figure out how to do this when you have a foot injury.

When you have a foot injury, you must let the tissue rest in order to heal

One of the reasons that many foot problems heal slowly is that feet rarely get a chance to rest. Even If you are trying to take it easy, you still spend a lot of time on your feet. This is the reason that for many foot problems, the first thing we must do is to give the foot a chance to rest. We may do this with a walking boot, taping, or braces of some sort. But during the first weeks of treatment, rest of the injured limb is often critical. Except in rare cases, such as a fracture or post-surgery, most people don’t need to be on crutches, but they may, for example, be wearing a walking boot. During these first weeks of healing we recommend no pounding exercises. For example, no running, jumping exercises or treadmill walking. Even a bike or an elliptical machine may be too much depending on your condition.

How can you get in a good workout when you have a foot injury – even if you are wearing a walking boot?

If we combine the two best types of exercise, interval training and strength training, we can develop a program that you can do that will give you a great workout yet put minimal force on your feet. Listed below are some home programs that will help you get a great workout, even if you have a foot injury.

If you work with a certified personal training at your gym, they can often help you work out a program. If you are a patient of Dr. Huppin or Dr. Hale, we are happy to talk to your trainer to discuss your program.

Exercises that can be done with little or no force on the feet (even complete non-weight bearing)

  • Heavy rope training sitting in a chair
  • Aqua jogging
  • Elliptigo (outdoor elliptical trainer)
  • Recumbent bike
  • Swimming
  • Many portions of the DVDs listed below
  • YouTube videos listed below

Exercises that can be done in a walking boot

  • Heavy rope training
  • Many portions of the DVDs listed below
  • Upper body weight training
  • YouTube videos listed below

Recommended Exercise DVDs to Use When You Have a Foot Injury

We have a put together a list of fitness DVDs that can be used to develop a training program that will get your heart rate up and help you burn calories and maintain fitness. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you have been diagnosed with a foot or ankle injury, talk to the treating physician about this program before staring it.

Many of the DVDs we recommend put a focus on upper body weight training. If you run through the exercises fairly quickly with little break in between, you can make these strength training sessions into great interval workouts. You have to be careful not to overload your injured foot, and you will have to make a few modifications. For example, if you are on crutches you will have do all of the exercises sitting in a chair. Skip any that require you to be standing. If you are in a walking boot, then you can stand, but avoid doing any exercises that involve jumping or otherwise moving your feet. It’s usually ok to stand in one place, however, and do the upper body strengthening. If you are non-wieght bearing, do the following exercises while in a chair.

You want to move rapidly through the exercises to maintain an elevated heart rate. In most cases you don’t have to let a foot or ankle injury stop you from exercising. The product links below are affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase one. Here are the DVDs we are recommending:

P90X – Guide to P90X Workouts to do When Your Foot or Ankle is Injured

This program consists of 12 DVDs that provide a full body workout plan. These are not easy workouts, but they are effective. You will need some hand weights and either a pull-up bar or exercise bands Seven of the DVDs can be used for people with foot pain. We recommend the following workouts. Remember; move rapidly from exercise to exercise to make this a cardio interval workout.

  • Workout One – Chest & Back: This workout emphasizes push-ups and pull-ups. This is a great workout when you have a foot or leg injury. If you have an injury to one foot, you can put that foot on top of the other one while doing push-ups. For more of a cardio interval workout, use your remote to fast forward through breaks.
  • Workout Three – Shoulders & Arms: A combination of pressing, curling, and fly movements, this routine will burn many calories. Skip the breaks to make it more of a cardio interval workout. If necessary, most of this workout can be done sitting down.
  • Workout Five – Legs & Back: Skip this one if you are wearing a walking boot. If you have an injury that allows you to wear shoes, then this workout can usually be done, although we recommend skipping the two calf exercises (the ones that ask you to go up on tiptoe).
  • Workout Seven – X Stretch: Avoid excessive stretch of injured areas.
  • Workout Nine – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps: Targets both large and small muscles, of your upper body. Includes presses, flys, and extensions. Much of this workout can be done while sitting.
  • Workout 10 – Back & Biceps: Consists of curls and pull-ups. Another great workout that does not stress the lower extremity. Bicep exercises can be done while sitting.
  • Workout 12 – Ab Ripper X: When you have a foot injury it’s a good time to work on your abs.

Bob Harper: Inside Out Method

Bob Harper, one of the trainer’s from NBC’s Biggest Loser show, has several excellent DVDs that are extremely effective workouts. Most of the ones we recommend are in his “Inside Out” series. These also tend to be very inexpensive DVDs. With just a little modification, they can provide a great workout for someone with a foot, ankle or leg injury.

Bob Harper: Pure Burn- Super Strength
This is an excellent total body workout. Those of you with a foot injury will want to either skip or substitute about 30% of this 60 minute workout. He often will have you doing lower body work at the same time as upper body. Focus more on the upper body moves. Skip the “Down and Outs” and the lunges. Squats are fine for many people with foot injuries, but if it hurts, don’t do it. You can buy it here for about $10

Bob Harper: Totally Ripped Core
50 minutes of isolated core combinations. This is a good overall workout. If you have foot pain or injury substitute punches or planks for the following exercises:

  • Plyo Squats
  • Single leg deadlifts
  • Side Burpee
  • Other exercises that put stress on your feet.

Totally ripped core can be found here – usually under $10.

Cathe Friedrich’s Low Impact Series: Afterburn

While this one would be difficult to do in a walking boot, these are high intensity workouts that are low impact. Perfect when healing from a foot injury. Use this workout in its entirety as you are working back toward your normal activity. If you are wearing a walking boot, skip the cardio portions and only do the metabolic weight training (she alternates between the two). Available here for just under $25.

Heavy Rope Training (Battle Ropes) – A Great Cardio Workout You Can do While Sitting

Battle rope

Heavy rope (or battle rope) training is one of the best cardio workouts to do when you have a foot injury. It consists of holding onto both end of a heavy rope (one end in each hand). There are many exercises you can do to ramp up your cardio and build your core strength. Some of the exercises include waves, slams, throws, spirals and whips. All involve swinging your arms up and down (or side to side) in some manner for timed intervals. One of the great things about heavy rope training is that you can do it sitting down! This makes it a great exercise choice for even those with fairly severe foot injuries.

Battle rope anchor

You will need about 50 feet of 1.5 or 2 inch rope. Heavy rope can run between $70 and $250 depending on the length and thickness. It is, however, one of the best workouts for those with a foot injury and you will likely want to include it in your exercise routine when you are healed. This rope is a good one at a good price. You will need something to anchor it to (a pole, post, tree, fence or a friend).

The video below shows 12 exercises you can do either sitting or standing. Watch the right upper corner of the video for sitting exercises.

We also recommend a “battle rope anchor” to hold the rope stable for your workout.

Video: 12 Battle Rope Exercises You Can Do Sitting Down or Standing

Pool Running (Aqua Jogging)

Pool running or Aqua jogging is an excellent method to maintain and gain fitness when you have a lower extremity injury. Runners in particular will find pool running great for maintaining fitness levels.

An Aqua Jogger like this one will help you do pool-running.

You will also want to use aqua ankle weights to help with the jogging motion

Video: How to Properly do Pool-Running

ElliptiGO (Outdoor Elliptical Trainer)

Elliptical cycling combines the best of cycling, running and elliptical training. It is a fun and effective outdoor workout. You can see a selection of ElliptiGo trainers here.

CrossFit Workouts for Those with Foot Injuries

There are many crossfit workouts of the day that are great for people looking for an intense workout that won’t put too much stress on your feet One of my favorites is the Cindy. Cindy consists of a 20 minute workout alternating:

  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 body weight squats

Do as many sets as you can in 20 minutes If you are in a boot, substitute bicycle abs for the body weight squats.

There are a number of other CrossFit WODs that can be done if you are suffering from foot or leg pain. Many others require only some modification to make them doable.

Hurt Foot or Hurt Ankle Workout Videos on YouTube

We have found some great videos on YouTube showing workouts that can be done with an injured foot or ankle. First, Caroline Jordan has a great video on youtube showing a number of exercises that can be done while putting no force on the foot or ankle. It’s pretty short but you can run through this video several times for a complete workout. Better yet, combine it with the second video below showing Heather Frey working out after her own foot injury.

Video: Total Body Chair Workout from Fitness Blender

We love Fitness Blender and use them for our own workouts. This total body workout is perfect for anyone with a foot injury that makes standing difficult.

Video: Working out with a foot or ankle injury

Heather Frey experienced a serious foot fracture called a Lisfranc’s injury. She is on is on crutches and in a walking boot and is not allowed to bear any weight at all. Here she shows that you can still get in an advanced workout even with serious foot and ankle injuries and while wearing the walking boot and having to be completely non-weight bearing!

How I Overcame an Injury—and Why I Can’t Wait to Get Back to Fitness

It happened on September 21. My boyfriend and I were in Killington, VT for the Spartan Sprint, a 4ish-mile race along part of the Spartan Beast World Championship course. In typical obstacle course racing fashion, we were told we could plan on climbing mountains, traversing water, carrying very heavy things, and doing anywhere from 30 to 300 burpees, but not many more details. The most predictable thing about Spartan Race is its unpredictability. And that’s a huge part of the appeal-at least to me.

I’m a regular CrossFitter (shout-out to my box, CrossFit NYC!), so I train four to five days a week to be functionally fitter for any of life’s unpredictable challenges. I can deadlift 235 pounds, do pull-ups until my hands bleed, and sprint a mile in five minutes and 41 seconds. So on Sunday’s course, when we approached the pole traverse (a thick metal pole above a big water pit; the task: use your hands to get from one end to the other), I was all, “I totally got this.” I rubbed dirt between my palms to try to dry them and give myself a better grip. The two guys manning the obstacle told me that only one girl had successfully made it across that day and two the day prior. Then I thought, “Well, I’m about to be number four.”

And I almost was. Until I slipped (for the record, I blame wet hands versus inadequate strength). Assuming I was falling into the water pit, I went ragdoll on my five-foot descent. But there wasn’t more than a couple of inches of water to break my fall. So my left ankle took the brunt of the hit. And the audible crack still makes me want to barf a little.

I wanted to keep going, but my boyfriend pumped the brakes. I couldn’t put weight on my foot, and much to my chagrin, I was carted off the course where I was told my injury was nothing more than a sprain. Never one to let a good weekend away go bad, I convinced my (worried) boyfriend that pumpkin pancakes at Sugar and Spice were far more important than a second opinion at urgent care. Though this would be my first ever race DNF (that’s race-speak for did not finish), the day wasn’t a total wash.

Flash forward to today: I’ve been in a hard cast for exactly four weeks and on crutches for six. I broke my entire fibula (the smaller of the two lower leg bones) and have an anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) tear. (That second opinion-allbeit a little later than it should have been-paid off.) I’ll need aggressive physical therapy once the cast comes off.

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So what’s a fitness addict to do? Well, rather than sit on the couch crying about how many killer CrossFit WODs (workout of the day) I’m missing and swearing off obstacle course races, I’ve found ways to turn my injury into opportunity (really!). And the next time you find yourself benched-whether it’s a week or three months-you should do the same. Here, a few top ways to stay in the better-body game even when you’re benched.

Focus on Food

This may sound like an oxymoron, but don’t forget that what you eat can affect how your body looks and functions-regardless of how badass you are in the gym. Pre-injured me was eating a ton of protein because that’s what my body was craving. But a few days of being immobile had me drooling over kale, sweet potatoes, quinoa, green smoothies, and more. So I listened to my body and started experimenting with vegan recipes from blogs like Deliciously Ella and Oh She Glows. For someone who recently dabbled in the Paleo diet, this was totally foreign territory. But I quickly realized two amazing things: 1) Cooking really healthy food is really easy 2) Cooking really healthy food is really delicious. On top of that, clean eating was giving me energy I’d otherwise find in a good cardio workout. And knowing that the foods I was cooking were lower in sugar, carbs, and calories made me feel better about burning less than I typically was. I’m not telling you all to go vegan-and I’m not sure this is a permanent change for me-but I do think it’s important to listen to your body: Give it what it needs, not what your mind craves.

Modify, Don’t Quit

Sitting on the couch for the entirety of my injury was just not an option for me (and it doesn’t have to be for you either!). I dusted off my 15-pound kettlebell, a set of 10-pound dumbbells, and a variety of resistance bands. I’ll do assisted push-ups, seated and lying upper-body exercises, and use the bands for some barre/Pilates-style butt and thigh toners. I also work with a personal trainer at a gym once a week for some heavier upper-body lifting. I even went for a two-hour kayak in the Hudson one afternoon. Sure, I’m not burning a ton of calories (or breaking much of a sweat), but I enjoy these activities-and they keep me active. Depending on the location and degree of your injury, there are likely ways you can get some semblance of a workout in too. Just make sure to check with your doctor and consult a trainer so you’re very clear on exactly what you can and cannot do. The last thing you’ll want is to further aggravate (or worse, extend!) your injuries.

Have a Non-Negotiable Plan to Get Back on the Horse

The first thing a lot of people ask me when I tell them how I got injured is, “So are you done with obstacle course races?” And my answer is always an emphatic, “Heck no!” In fact, I can’t wait to toe the line at another Spartan Race. And as soon as my physical therapist clears me, I’m going to register for one. But this time, I’ll be more careful. I’ll pay better attention to my surroundings, and exercise more caution during obstacles. If I approach something I think could result in trouble? I’ll skip it. But I certainly won’t run away from them entirely. Yes, I broke my ankle during one. But it could have happened walking down a flight of stairs at the subway station. You can’t predict injury-you can do things to avoid it, but writing off something entirely won’t necessarily keep you safe. Whether you fell off your bike, got plantar fasciitis from running, or destroyed your shin doing box jumps-ease back into where you left off. You’ll have a whole new perspective on the activity and you’ll feel an incredible sense of accomplishment and confidence each time you work through a session or race injury-free.

  • By Jaclyn Emerick

Cardio with a broken foot?

I broke my fifth metatarsal on 8/25 and have one of those lovely moonboots to wear for the next six weeks. My doctor told me to stay off of my feet, unless absolutely necessary. I have to go to work, so the 10 minute walk to the bus stop and the 7 minute walk from my bus stop to my office building is really all the walking I’m supposed to be doing. I asked if I was still allowed to exercise and my doctor said “If you can manage it without being on your foot or causing it any stress, feel free.”
I’m ok on modifying strength training moves to avoid being on or using my feet, but I’m stumped on cardio. Can anyone give me any suggestions on cardio exercises I can do that don’t involve being on or using my feet? I’m not supposed to get the soft cast wet, so the natural choice of swimming is out. I know there is one of those arm bicycle things at my gym, but that’s the only thing I can think of. Any ideas would be much appreciated!
/Edit to add: I belong to a couple of gyms, one at my office and a NYSC by my apartment, I have an exercise ball, resistance bands, free weights, Wii and a Total Gym at home. All of my workout DVDs are dance related, unfortunately.
Edited by: ALITTLEBITLOLA at: 9/7/2011 (15:59)

7 Exercises to Help You Stay in Shape While on Crutches

When you’ve worked hard to make health and exercise a priority in your life, getting injured and ending up on crutches can seem like a major setback.Â

If you’re itching to start moving again, we have some great news: you can exercise while on crutches.Â

To maintain your physical fitness during the healing process, try out these exercises, all of which can be performed while on crutches.Â

1. Arm Exercises

Some of the best exercises while on crutches are arm exercises as they don’t require you to put any weight or pressure on your injured leg. Working out with arm exercises helps you maintain both cardio and upper body strength. Some great upper body exercises include:Â

    • Front arm raises
    • Sidearm raises
    • Lat pulldowns
    • Arm circles
    • Shoulder shrugs
    • Bicep curls
  • Shoulder press

There are dozens of arm exercises you can do while on crutches. You can continue to build arm strength despite your leg injury if you use your healing time to try new exercises and work muscles you might not normally train.

2. Light Walking

If your injury allows, light walking while on crutches is a good option for getting in some cardio.Â

If your injury is non-weight bearing, don’t worry. The iWALK 2.0 mobility device offers great support for injuries below the knee. This handless crutch enables you to easily move around the gym and will make it possible for you to get back to walking while you’re on crutches.

3. Ab and Core Exercises

Another great group of exercises to perform while on crutches involve your core.Â

The Mayo Clinic recommends building abdominal strength to help improve posture, reduce muscle injuries, and improve back pain. Since core stability is essential, especially while you’re on crutches, improve ab strength with these exercises:

    • Sit-ups
    • V-sit ups
    • Roll-ups
  • Side bends

Combining core exercises with upper body exercises and weight training will help you maintain good overall fitness while you’re on crutches.Â

4. Cardio Exercises

In addition to building strength with core and weight training, getting some cardio exercise is essential for maintaining good health.Â

Getting cardio exercise while on crutches requires some creativity, but it is possible. Bring this list of upper-body cardio exercises to your doctor or physical therapist to see what they recommend for you:

    • Arm bike/upper-body ergometer
    • Walking with a hands-free crutch
    • Arm circles
    • Punching (kickboxing with the upper body)
  • Battle Ropes

You may also wonder, “is walking on crutches good exercise?â€\x9D The answer is: absolutely!

Walking on crutches certainly qualifies as exercise because it requires a lot of upper body strength and burns more calories than walking without crutches does. However, using crutches incorrectly during cardio exercise can cause underarm pain, result in underarm nerve damage, and pose a risk to your injured leg.

The iWALK 2.0 mobility device solves these issues. It makes walking comfortable for those with injuries below the knee. This handless crutch allows you to quickly get back to walking, and makes it easier to move around at the gym while you’re exercising. It also provides incredible stability without putting any pressure under your arms, making it safe and pain-free to use.Â

5. Leg Exercises (With Caution)

Depending on the type of injury you have, you may be able to do some low impact leg exercises while on crutches.Â

Some leg exercises on crutches might include a variety of leg lifts or resistance band training. However, performing improper movements repetitively can slow your recovery process and keep you on crutches for longer. For this reason, always consult with your doctor and physical therapist before doing any leg exercises while on crutches.Â

6. Aquatic Exercises

If you’re looking for an option that doesn’t require the use of crutches, aquatic exercises can be a great fit. Working out in a pool allows those with injuries to perform effective low impact exercises. Talk to your doctor and physical therapist to see if aquatic exercises are right for your situation.Â

7. Full-Body Chair Exercises

If your injury has kept you chair-bound, it’s still possible to exercise.

Chair exercises can be modified for intensity or if you need to avoid using your legs entirely.

YouTube has some great seated cardio workout videos that show you how to engage in a full-body cardio workout while in a chair. We’ve included chair workouts in this list of exercises on crutches because they’ll help those with injuries to stay in shape during recovery.Â

Stay in Shape Doing Exercises on Crutches

Getting enough exercise while on crutches requires some additional planning and effort, but it’s worth maintaining your health. No matter your current fitness level, doing exercises on crutches can help you maintain your health during the healing process. Â

Stress Fractures: Management and Treatment

How is a stress fracture treated?

If you think you have a stress fracture, see your doctor and follow the treatment guidelines he or she gives you. Do not ignore the pain, because it can cause serious problems.

These are some of the treatments your doctor may recommend:

  • Stop the activity that is causing pain. Stress fractures happen because of repetitive stress, so it is important to avoid the activity that led to the fracture.
  • Apply an ice pack to the injured area.
  • Rest for 1 to 6 weeks. Once you can perform low-impact activities for extended periods without pain, you can start doing high-impact exercises.
  • When you are lying down, raise your foot above the level of your heart.
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Use protective footwear to reduce stress on your foot or leg. This may be a stiff-soled shoe, a wooden-soled sandal, or a removable short-leg fracture brace shoe.
  • Your doctor may put a cast or fracture boot on your foot to keep the bones in a fixed position and to remove the stress on the leg.
  • Use of crutches to keep weight off your foot or leg until the bone heals may be required.
  • Some stress fractures need surgery to heal properly. This is called internal fixation. Pins, screws, and/or plates can be used to hold the bones of the foot and ankle together during the healing process.
  • If you have diabetes, see your doctor right away if you have pain or other problems with your legs, ankles, or toes.

Slow pace

During the early phase of healing, the doctor may recommend that you change your schedule so that you rest one day, do an activity the next day, then rest the next day. You should slowly increase how often and how vigorously you exercise. If the activity that caused the stress fracture is resumed too quickly, you may develop a larger stress fracture that is harder to heal. If you re-injure the bone, it can lead to long-term problems, and the stress fracture might never heal properly.

Cross training

Change the types of aerobic exercise you do to help avoid repeated stress on the foot and ankle. Switch to aerobic activities that place less stress on your foot and leg so that the stress fracture can heal properly. Swimming and cycling are good alternative activities.

How long does it take to recover from a stress fracture?

As long as you can feel pain, the bone is still fragile in that area, and can break again in the same place. It takes 6-8 weeks for a stress fracture to heal, so it is important to stop the activities that caused the stress fracture. Always ask your doctor before you do any physical activity on the injured foot or ankle.

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During the next stage cells called osteoblasts create new bone adding minerals to make it a hard callus. This stage can take anything between six and twelve weeks.

Longer term the body very cleverly works to remodel the bone back to its original shape using cells called osteoclasts to break down any extra bone. But this phase can take anywhere between three and nine years!

For me, I spent weeks worrying about whether my foot would heal properly, whether I’d be able to do my gym classes again, and how this would impact me longer term. I’m happy to say that three months later the bone had healed, I suddenly was able to go back to my classes and a couple of trips to a very good physio reassured me that I should be ok longer term. It’s all about patience!

Step 4: Fuelling the bone healing process – what to eat

I very quickly did some online research to see if I could figure out the best food to eat to ensure my body was getting the right nutrients it needed to help heal the bone in my foot. Below is a list of key nutrients and sources you can find them in.

If you’d like to see a handy chart of top sources for each of these nutrients as well as a list of meals I also found (not my recipes but either an easy mix of key foods or I’ve noted the well-known books I found the recipes in) you can download The Life Reporter’s Guide to Bone Healing Nutrition below.

How to stay active in a cast

If working out is a large part of your daily routine to stay fit or to relieve stress, having a cast on your arm or leg can present challenges. But it doesn’t mean that all physical activity needs to be put on hold until you recover.
Whether your cast is the result of a fall, accident or surgery, you can make modifications to your exercise routine so that you can stay fit while you recover. Just remember to be open-minded about a less-intense routine because it’s only temporary.
As a physician assistant at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute, I often deal with patients who want to know if it’s safe to work out during the healing process and what options they have.
If your hand/arm/wrist is in a cast:
I suggest low-intensity lower body exercises for cardiovascular activities, including walking or using a recumbent stationary bicycle. Both activities can be done with restricted motion of your arm, which won’t compromise its healing.

Strength training

If you want to strength train, I recommend lower body machine exercises that use a pin to change the weight rather than having to handle weights.

If you don’t belong to a gym: try performing squats or lunges using your body weight – they can be just as effective.

Core strengthening

Safe options include sit-ups and straight-legged lifts while you lay on your back. You should avoid any type of plank exercise, or other exercises that require the use of your injured arm.
No matter what kind of exercise you choose, it’s important to resist any motion with the injured part of your arm. Make sure you can do the activity safely; a fall could potentially cause re-injury or hurt another part of your body.
If you’ve had shoulder surgery and are wearing a sling:
I work with shoulder surgeons here at Ohio State and one of the things our patients who’ve had shoulder surgery are always curious about is how they can stay active.
Even though most patients with shoulder injuries are placed in a sling with an immobilizer pillow for up to six weeks after surgery, you can perform the same exercises described above. Always talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s OK to proceed.
If your leg/knee/ankle/foot is in a cast:
Generally, if you have a cast on your leg or ankle, most of your exercise activity will focus on your upper body.


An excellent way to increase your heart rate is to use a hand bicycle or hand pedals while sitting at a desk or table.

Most upper body dumbbell exercises can be modified so that you’re sitting in a chair, which adds stability. Use the appropriate amount of weight so that you don’t trip or drop the weights and possibly injure another part of your body.

Most upper body dumbbell exercises can be modified so that you’re sitting in a chair which adds stability. Use the appropriate amount of weight so that you don’t trip or drop the weights and possibly injure another part of your body.


To retain flexibility while in a lower body cast, stretching is a safe option. Depending on whether the cast is on your leg or ankle will dictate which stretches you’ll be able to do. Straight-legged toe touches while sitting on the floor are a great way to stretch your hamstrings.

Core exercises

Do these with caution because the majority of these exercises require the use of your hips and legs, or stabilization of your body using your legs.
Things to remember:

  • Casts tend to easily absorb water and sweat.
  • If a cast continues to get wet with water or sweat, it can begin to smell.
  • As always, you should talk to your doctor before you begin any type of exercise or physical activity while in a cast.

Keep a positive outlook

It’s normal to feel discouraged at times if you’re wearing a cast. But, if you try to focus on the long-term goals of your recovery and not your current situation, you can avoid becoming depressed.
For athletes, especially, it’s important to be an active team member, even if you can’t play your sport until full recovery. Be on the sidelines, encourage your teammates and try to learn and improve your game by observingthe game. Your teammates and coach will appreciate your effort and encouragement.
Take the time that you’re not able to participate in exercise to enjoy a hobby that’s unrelated to sports or fitness. Start a new book, spend time with your friends and family, watch a TV show or series that you’ve been wanting to see.
Eventually, the cast will come off, and soon you’ll be back to your sport or workout routine.
Sean Collins is a physician assistant at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute.

When Can I Lift Weights After Breaking My Ankle?

Heed your orthopedic surgeon’s advice regarding when you can return to weight-bearing activities. A removable ankle brace will be beneficial once you are up and moving. Most people will return to everyday movements (except athletics) within three to four months following a fracture.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but it can take several months or more before you’ll feel comfortable again to participate in sports such as running. Muscles and ligaments can become stiff and grow scar tissue when healing, so it can be a bit painful.

When Can I Start Running Again After a Fractured Ankle?

Your physical therapist and medical team will recommend exercises that are beneficial for boosting strength and flexibility in the affected area. The estimated time before you may run after a fracture will depend on myriad factors, including the severity of the break, whether you had surgical intervention, how involved you were in rehabilitation, and your response to physical therapy.

Orthopedic Surgeons in Watertown

Your destination for comprehensive care, North Country Orthopaedic Group offers a host of services – from scanning to physical therapists to surgeons with a focus on foot and ankle injuries and trauma.

Our skilled team utilizes a variety of cutting-edge techniques and conservative modalities, including medications and physical therapy. Our well-rounded staff will help put you on the path to recovery.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call us today at (315) 782-1650. You can also request an appointment online right now to get started. We look forward to helping you heal from your fractured ankle so you can get back to doing what you love.

Exercise with broken ankle

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