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Hildegard

Doing yoga with a foot injury

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Long story short: about three weeks ago I broke a toe. Eventually went to the doctor, confirmed it was a fracture and had my toes taped together for support. This helped tremendously, as I couldn't walk without limping and being in serious pain.  I was told not to go wild and not to walk too much, but that was it. I've been trying to follow my doctor's advice, but I've found it frustratingly vague. The appointment was kind of rushed and I didn't get the time to explain that I do yoga and ask specific questions as to what kind of movement I should avoid.

Getting another appointment with this doctor isn't an option in the near future. I lucked out to get one when I did. I've been doing my best to avoid any asanas that put pressure and/or weight in my toes. In plank or lunge, for example, I put my weight on my big toe (I broke the equivalent of my ring finger on my left foot). I'm not doing any jumps during sun salutations, any crouching poses. I've been trying to focus on core work and arm balances, while being very careful with my foot balances. Still, part of me is afraid I'm doing something wrong though nothing hurts during my practice (if it does I move until it doesn't).

I was wondering if anyone had a similar experience and/or some advice to share.

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That's difficult when we have something happen and can't do what we are used to. With a fracture if it is stressed it won't heal. It is most important to not disrupt the healing process. The next part is to try and make healing conditions as favorable as possible. That is promoting blood flow to the area, gentle exercises that do not stress the fracture. What ever you are allowed to do from your medical instructions. Inversions are really good for foot injuries, maybe legs up the wall. At some point they should give you instructions to start using the toe more but not at full use yet. When it is time the partial use will improve healing as well. Follow your medical instructions.

Understand what is the best to heal the injury as quickly as possible and make that intention your yoga for now.

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On 10-11-2016 at 10:16 PM, Anahata said:

That's difficult when we have something happen and can't do what we are used to. With a fracture if it is stressed it won't heal. It is most important to not disrupt the healing process. The next part is to try and make healing conditions as favorable as possible. That is promoting blood flow to the area, gentle exercises that do not stress the fracture. What ever you are allowed to do from your medical instructions. Inversions are really good for foot injuries, maybe legs up the wall. At some point they should give you instructions to start using the toe more but not at full use yet. When it is time the partial use will improve healing as well. Follow your medical instructions.

Understand what is the best to heal the injury as quickly as possible and make that intention your yoga for now.

Thank you for the response. I've definitely been trying to include more inversions into my practice, following your advice. Unfortunately, I didn't receive very specific medical instructions (not to walk much, wear study shoes, don't do crazy things - whatever that means), so I'm just doing the bet I can.

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If you don't have much medical help it is difficult, you can look on the internet. But have to be careful with that, it has to be a reliable source and only stating facts. You can see this one from the Mayo Clinic. They wrote the same as we wrote here. But it is good to look there for reassurance. It is important for the doctor to actually see a person. And also give medical treatment to the person as an individual.

A broken toe is not too bad. Just have to give it time to heal. With most fractures any movement that causes pain is bad. It is a sign that the fracture is under stress. And you wrote you were careful about that so you are doing good. 

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I'm sorry to hear you were in so much pain! :(

I didn't realize how much we rely on our feet in yoga until I had my top of foot injury earlier this year.  I actually didn't do yoga for a full two months while healing because flexing my toes or activating my arch made the top of my foot ache.  I was pretty saddened by this and felt worse because I wasn't exercising... but, after my foot felt better, I was able to regain my balance and strength after a month of returning to my casual practice (3x week). So don't be disheartened if you notice a difference in your practice after you take the tape off.  toes are important!

I'm glad you don't feel additional pain now, but perhaps consider doing a modified vinyasa (on knees, then cobra instead of upward dog)? That way you can avoid forming strange habits of putting all your weight on just the big toe - we can form new imbalances in our bodies when we try to accommodate an injury. Maybe you can also incorporate more seated sequences, such as seated forward fold or seated side twists that do not rely on the foot to be flexed downward (i.e. toes bent back on the mat). 

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