Hi Hayley,

I broke my toe on the long weekend and it looks like the healing process could take up to 6 weeks. I'm wondering if you have any recommendations for ways to still work out when I am supposed to be staying off my feet as much as possible.

My usual weekly workout routine is a combo of doing classes at the gym (boot camp, cardio/weights, circuit training), and shorter runs (5-6km), with occasional yoga. I also live in a big city, so I walk everywhere, which I'm not able to do right now.

I do have a resistance band, hand weights and a kettle bell at home, but I'm not sure the best way to incorporate these into workouts where I'm off my feet, or what equipment I could use at the gym if I can't really participate in those classes right now. Ideally I'd like to still be able to do some activity over the next few weeks while I wait for the break to be fully healed before going all-in. (I'm assuming swimming would be a great option, but I unfortunately don't have access to a pool).

Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated!




For such a small little bone, a broken toe can wreak havoc in one’s fitness regime but with a little creativity, patience and perseverance you should be able to continue rocking it in the gym.

Let’s make a quick list of the things you can’t do: impact or any move that requires toe flexion and extension. Weight bearing is questionable right now, as is wearing a shoe, but within a few weeks you should be able to do movements that require you to stand, but stay stable, such as squats and lunges (as long as the ball of your back foot is resting on a step or bench behind you).

Now let’s make a quick list of all of the things that you can do: upper body strength which includes using the TRX, dumbbells and body weight exercises such as push-ups. You can do lower body exercises that do not stress your toe - leg press (with your toes off the front of the platform), leg extensions and curls, side-lying band work and work with a stability ball. You can also do core work, as long as it doesn’t involve any planking from your toes (from your knees will be just fine). Add your core work into your upper body exercises, in between your lower body exercises and at the end of your workout. As for cardio, since swimming is out, you are left with light cycling on the bike. Once you can weight-bear without pain I suggest you add in the elliptical (keeping your feet completely flat) and the rowing machine (focusing on pushing through your heels). Keep the cardio intervals short to avoid overstressing your toe. 5 minute intervals interspersed within your workout should keep your heart rate up to help make sure you are burning as many calories as you can in your workouts.

You are just going to have to be patient for the next while and give up the runs, the HIIT classes, yoga and walking around the city. This isn’t forever and maybe you are already walking around by the time this post is published. It is just a broken toe – you will be fine, and you now have a lot more time to try new things and learn some new exercises. You are going to be forced to be creative and figure out how to work out in new ways. I have trained people through all types of injuries and a broken toe is one of the easiest to work around. Here are a few exercises you can do until you get yourself back to your regular routine.

Push ups from your knees – start with 10, and then work your way down to 1 with a 10 second rest between each set. For example, do 10 push ups, rest 10 seconds, then 9 push ups, rest 10 seconds, then 8 push ups and so on.

Front plank – this may be easy for you so extend one arm out straight while keeping your hips still. Hold for 30 seconds on one side then switch to the other. Another fun option is to reach your arm straight out resting your fingertips on the floor for 15 seconds, then reach that same arm to the side, fingertips resting for 15 seconds, then straight behind you (by your hip) with finger tips resting for 15 seconds.

Clamshells with a band around your knees – lie on your side with your knees bent and wrap an exercise band around your thighs, just above your knees. Keep your feet together while lifting your top knee up and rotating the leg back. Do 20, then lift both feet in the air and do 20 more, then rotate your top leg so your heel points to the sky and lift and lower your leg 20 times. Your butt will be screaming.

Stability ball back bridges – keep your feet on the stability ball, knees bent and your hands by your side.  Press your heels into the ball and slowly curl your hips and spine off of the mat one vertebrae at a time.  Hold for 3 breaths at the top then slowly roll down. 5 of these should be enough.

Bird Dog Rows – this is a great way to work on your balance, core strength and upper body strength all at once. Kneel on a bench, with your feet hanging off the back, and your hands placed under your shoulders. Make sure your body weight is evenly dispersed on your knees and your hands. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and extend your left leg straight out then row the dumbbell to your hip and release, while maintaining a still and stable body. Repeat 20 times before switching to the other side.

Be creative with your workouts, do what you can and then when you are better you are going to love your hard, intense workouts more than you ever have. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, no?

For any other smutty fitness questions please forward them to me at [email protected]