A foot fracture can be a painful injury that sidelines your fitness routine for weeks or even months. Particularly if you're in a cast and can't walk on your foot, your leg muscles can grow much weaker and there may be an imbalance between the strength of the muscles in your legs. This can lead to pain throughout your body and can make your normal exercise routine tough. But gentle, progressively more challenging exercise can get you on the road to recovery.
Stretch on a daily basis for about a week before you begin any weight-bearing exercise routine. Stretching loosens up your muscles and gets them used to working together, reducing your risk of re-injuring yourself. Stretch your ankles by rolling them clockwise five to 10 times, then counterclockwise five to 10 times. Then gently point and flex your feet. Next, stretch your calves by wrapping an exercise band or towel underneath the balls of your feet as you sit with your legs extended straight out. While holding each end of the towel with your hands, pull the towel toward you until you feel a stretch. Then hold for five to 10 seconds.
Stretch your quadriceps and knees by standing straight. Grab your foot, then bend your knee and move your calf backward so that your calf is against the back of your thigh. Pull your foot toward your back until you feel a stretch, then hold for five to 10 seconds. Stretch your hamstrings by sitting down, back straight, and extending your legs straight in front of you. Reach for your toes until you feel a stretch, then hold for five to 10 seconds.
Exercise your calves by standing up straight and slowly rising to the balls of your feet. Use a sturdy piece of furniture or balance bar to stabilize yourself if you need to. Repeat five to 10 times. Next, do five to 10 squats. Stand up straight and slowly lower your rear backward and toward the ground while bending your knees. If you can't get down all the way, squat as far down as you comfortably can. Do five to 10 lunges by taking a large step forward, then bending both knees to lower yourself close to the ground.
Take regular walks. Walks provide cardiovascular exercise and also get your leg and foot muscles accustomed to working together in a balanced manner. As you gain strength, you can progress to more intense exercise such as running or jumping rope.
- Warm up by walking or cycling at a slow pace for five to 10 minutes before stretching.
- Massage can help loosen tense muscles. Look for muscle knots, then press on them while focusing on unclenching the muscle.
- Talk to your doctor before you begin exercising your leg and foot. In some cases, you may be able to begin basic exercises before your cast comes off, but you'll need your doctor's permission and might have to exercise under the direction of a physical therapist.
- If any exercise or stretch causes serious pain or you hear popping or tearing, stop doing the routine immediately.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.