How to work out with a broken toe

Sharing some tips on how to maintain your fitness and activity levels even with a broken toe. 

Hi friends! How are ya and how was the weekend? It was a great one over here. The Pilot was originally supposed to leave for a weeklong trip on Mother’s Day, and as he was driving to the airport, his flight was canceled! He ended up getting to stay home, which was a gift in itself.

We had a lovely brunch at Hacienda del Sol with madre and nana, dropped off plants for my nana and stepmom, and then had an amazing family dinner + swimming at madre’s. I hope that my friends who were celebrating enjoying a beautiful Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day can also be a difficult day for many, for various reasons, so if it wasn’t your favorite day, I’m sending you a big hug and holding you in my heart.

How to work out with a broken toe

How to work out with a broken toe

For today’s post, I wanted to talk about something I’ve experienced too many times: working out with a broken toe. I’ve broken the pinky toe on my right foot countless times – the Pilot said at this point, they should just amputate it – and for the first time ever, I broke my left pinky toe. It was exactly two and a half weeks ago, and I was running around the house getting things ready to film Fit Team videos. I raced into the living room and WHACK. I hit my foot in between the wooden chair leg and immediately fell to the floor, moaning in agony.

Usually when I stub a toe, it’s a few swear words and I move on with my life, but this one. Wow. I knew I really hurt it. I lied on the floor writhing in pain for at least five minutes. Then, I used pure adrenaline to film the 6 Fit Team workout tutorials (whew!), it throbbed all night, and the next morning, my foot was completely bruised and swollen. I got it good.

Because my foot was alarmingly purple, swollen, and hurting so badly, I actually went to urgent care to see if I truly damaged something. (Usually I know a toe is broken, buddy tape it, and let it heal.) They wanted to do an X-ray and sure enough: oblique fracture. The treatment doesn’t change and they just buddy tape it, so that’s my destiny for at least 2 more weeks.

The good news is that the doctor said I could work out as long as it feels ok. I can’t flex hard at my toes (no lunges, and definitely no high impact) but I was surprised to see that I can still do a LOT even with a broken toe.

In today’s post, I’m going to share some ideas and some of the things I’ve been doing! A broken toe doesn’t have to sideline your fitness goals. With a little creativity and some modifications, you can stay active and keep that body moving.

Talk to your doctor and make sure you’re ok to work out

First things first, safety always comes first. Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before attempting any new exercise or modification, especially when dealing with an injury. They’ll be able to provide personalized advice based on the severity and specific circumstances of your broken toe.

Exercises you can do with a broken toe

Tips and exercises that can help you maintain your fitness levels while allowing your toe to heal:

Low-impact cardio:

While high-impact activities like running or jumping might be off the table for a while, there are plenty of low-impact alternatives to keep your heart rate up. Swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical machine are excellent options that minimize stress on your injured toe. I’ve been able to ride the Peloton – I had to remain seated for the first couple of weeks – and also have been embracing the rower. (More on this in an upcoming post!)

Embrace strength training:

Focus on exercises that don’t put pressure directly on your toes. Seated or supine exercises like dumbbell presses, seated rows, chest flies, and stability ball hamstring curls can help you maintain strength without aggravating your toe. Incorporating resistance bands and bodyweight exercises like squats, planks, and modified push-ups can also be effective. (Just watch out for pressure on your toe. For planks, I keep the injured foot curled under instead of pressing into my toes.)

Core and stability exercises:

A broken toe doesn’t mean you have to neglect your core and balance work. In fact, now is the perfect time to hone those skills! Try standing on one leg (the uninjured one!) while performing exercises like bicep curls or shoulder presses. You can also explore yoga or Pilates routines specifically designed for balance and stability. I feel like Pilates is one of the most broken toe-friendly workouts, as you can do many of the exercises on your mat and without pressure on the toes. Sculpt Society is still a fave; I just opt for the strength workouts instead of dance cardio.

online fitness classes

Modify your favorite workouts:

If you’re a fan of group fitness classes or at-home workout videos, don’t fret. Most workouts can be adapted to accommodate a broken toe. For instance, if you’re doing a cardio kickboxing routine, focus on upper body strikes and kicks, while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. In strength-based workouts, replace exercises that put stress on your toe with similar movements that target the same muscle groups. If you take group fitness classes, tell the instructor that your toe is broken; they will usually provide great modifications. I’ve been skipping cardio day at F45, but on strength days, it’s been easy for me to modify some of the moves as needed.

Don’t forget about flexibility:

Stretching can be helpful for maintaining joint mobility and preventing muscular imbalances. Gentle stretching exercises like yoga or using a foam roller can help relieve tension in your muscles and promote overall wellbeing. Just be mindful of any movements that may cause discomfort to your toe and avoid them until you’re fully healed.

Remember that it’s temporary!

Remember, your broken toe might feel like a setback, but it’s just a temporary hurdle on your fitness journey. Listen to your body, take it slow, and give yourself permission to adapt and modify your workouts as needed.

Before you know it, you’ll be back to your regular routine, stronger and more determined than ever!

I hope these tips inspire you to stay active and keep pursuing your health and wellness goals, even with a broken toe. Remember, your fitness journey is about progress, not perfection. Take this opportunity to explore new exercises, challenge your body in different ways, and embrace the power of adaptability. You’ve got this. 🙂

Hope you have an amazing day and I’ll see ya soon!



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1 Comment

  1. Julie on May 15, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    When I broke my toe, I couldn’t wear anything but flip-flops for several weeks. (Thank goodness it was during the summer months.) I continued to go to body pump and yoga classes, but just did the workouts barefoot and had no issues at all!

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