A large majority of the New Yorkers that I work with in my clinic are active individuals. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the conditions I treat to be caused by overexertion or sports injuries. When individuals are healing from a foot or ankle procedure, it can be frustrating to have to halt their normal activity. Studies show that our bodies crave the endorphins that come with exercise, so cutting them out of your life completely can be shocking and mentally challenging. Even though minimally invasive surgeries have changed the game and shortened the time it takes to recover, patients are usually still out for at least a few weeks.
The change of pace might be a bummer, but the great news is that you don’t have to stop activity all together. To get through, it’s helpful to find some alternative activities to keep your body and mind moving. There are many ways to modify and switch up your workout to help you stay in shape and avoid shocking your body when you resume your normal habits. Here are a few examples, but keep in mind that you’ll need to clear any activity with your physical therapist or physician before proceeding.
Focus on your upper body
If your feet or ankles are healing, it’s a great time to focus on other parts of your body. Put more energy into moving your arms by lifting weights or doing push-ups. A rowing machine should be able to accommodate you, even if you are in a boot or a cast. You can also focus on strengthening your abs and back through sit-ups, trunk twists, and planks (as long as you keep pressure off your feet!)
Try resistance bands
If you’re having trouble accessing gym equipment or aren’t comfortable lifting weights, give resistance bands a go. Made of thick rubber, these devices give your body a workout as you strive to stretch them out. You can use them to target your arms, as well as your upper legs. You can find some great tips for using them online, and a physical therapist might have some suggestions as well.
Give yoga a shot
Use your time in recovery to focus on building up your muscles and balance through yoga. Although you’ll want to avoid placing too much pressure on your feet and ankles, several beginner poses focus on other body parts. You can find some examples online. Another option is to seek out a yoga studio that teaches chair yoga. This modified version of the practice introduces a chair into the mix and allows you to sit down as you move.
As you heal and work to find alternative routines, try to be as patient with yourself as you can. Set goals for your recovery, including milestones like moving without the use of crutches. Once your recovery is complete, you’ll be able to look back on your time as a growing experience and maybe with a new-found beloved activity!