Well…I broke my third toe on vacation. It happened just a couple of days after we arrived in Kauai, Hawai’i. (I’ll include a few photos of our trip at the end of this post. It was still an amazing trip!). My husband and I were casually walking on the beach and taking photos. As we were getting closer to the water and moving fast…it happened so quickly I had no idea what hit me… or what I hit. I looked down and saw that my toe was completely bent.
We just stopped everything and rushed to the car so we can find the closest hospital. At the hospital, they took x-rays and said I had a toe fracture.
I wasn’t sure what that meant. I never broke a toe before so I didn’t know what to expect. I mean it’s just a toe. It shouldn’t really stop me from walking, right? Wrong! It affected everything. I couldn’t even move my ankle anymore. It was also extremely painful to make any sort of foot movement.
We planned to go hiking and I was really looking forward to swimming, going for walks, working out on the beach. But, unfortunately, none of that happened. My foot hurt so much trying to walk on the sand. I could only walk on flat surfaces and on the side of my foot, holding on to whatever is close to me to lift the weight off my foot. So I tried to just enjoy the ocean from afar and we drove everywhere.
We didn’t come back home right away. I had to keep my foot up and was barely able to walk around… Sitting on a very long flight with barely any room to extend my leg felt impossible on that first week. My foot was completely bruised and swollen and I had to ice it and keep it up most of the day. So instead of just spending the whole vacation demoralized and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to make the most out of it.
It was extremely challenging to move around. The doctor gave me a flat shoe to avoid moving my toe (as I couldn’t put any weight on my foot). I was also using my knee to lift my lower leg and using my left leg for support and stability.
My body was compensating in a lot of ways.
It’s important to be aware of how your body is compensating after an acute injury. Try your best to remain balanced and use any available tools (I’ll list the ones that helped me below) to help your body remain balanced, and minimize compensation as much as possible.
I experienced a lot of lower back tightness and my hips were sore as well. I was balancing myself with my left leg (and there was no other way to move really, so I couldn’t avoid this). And this created a lot of tightness. This has certainly shown me the importance of our feet in keeping our body balanced and stable. The feet are the base of support and a lot of upper chronic conditions can originate at the base.
Below I’m going to include all the tools, supplements, and healthy foods that have been helping me manage this acute injury, naturally. I am hoping this post will be helpful to you if you’ve also sustained a recent foot or toe injury.
Not Sure If Your Toe Is Broken?
Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. I only mention products I personally use and recommend…and if you purchase from Amazon using my affiliate link, I get a small commission. You won’t pay more!
If you stub, hit, or drop something on your toe and you experience bruising and/or swelling, please consult your doctor as soon as possible. The bone may be fractured and the only way to confirm that is by visiting a physician and possibly have an x-ray done. I personally had to get the bone re-adjusted back into place (Ouch!). I certainly wouldn’t try to do that myself. It’s important to identify the type of fracture and if the joint is affected as well.
First 1-3 Weeks After Breaking My Toe
I’ve created a full video to show you all the tools I’ve been using to heal the injury. I’ve also listed them below this video.
The first few days were extremely challenging. I was unable to move my ankle and my foot was bruised and swollen. The acute inflammation phase can last up to a week so I followed the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation (1).
Tools To Manage A Broken Toe
I was lucky to meet a few people the first week who recommended I get a walking boot. They said it was very helpful and made a big difference in their recovery. So after doing more research that day, I decided to get a walking book from a medical store in Hawai’i. And, it just made everything 80% better.
This is the walking boot I’ve been using for the past 3 weeks and I have to say that it made things 70% better! I felt supported and more stable. The boot is so soft and cushy. I do recommend though you get a shoe leveler to help you adjust your hips and offset the added height when wearing the walking boot.
- Here’s the walking boot I purchased that’s been the most helpful so far.
- Here’s the shoe leveler I recommend. I haven’t purchased this in Hawai’i. I wasn’t even aware it existed and I was happy to just find the boot on the island. During our last day, a lady told me about it so I looked it up as soon as I got home. But, I really wish I had this to avoid the hip height discrepancy. I can totally feel its effect.
- I highly recommend you get crutches if you plan to walk around the first few weeks. Yes, it felt so uncomfortable using them at first. But they were a huge help. I was able to put my weight on them while walking and they provided me with added support and stability.
- Oh, and here’s the initial flat shoe I got at the hospital. While this was okay to stabilize my foot, it really didn’t help me walk around. My ankle was constantly sliding and it didn’t protect or stabilize my toe. So I wouldn’t recommend it during the early stages of a toe injury. I can see myself using this as a transition from the boot.
Foods and Supplements To Speed Up Bone Healing
In order to support my body heal and recover as fast as possible, I’ve increased or added the following foods and supplements:
- Bone broth: I got my hands on some delicious bone broth while in Hawai’i. It was so helpful during that first week. Bone broth contains collagen and other healing properties that support the body’s natural healing process.
- Vitamin D3: I realize the importance of vitamin D to support bone health so I decided to add a vitamin D supplement to my diet.
- Calcium and magnesium: I take magnesium consistently. I’m only going to be increasing my consumption of foods that rich in calcium such as organic milk, broccoli, and spinach.
- Collagen protein: Collagen constitutes a major part of our bones and it is my hope that supplementing with this will accelerate bone healing and regeneration. I’m going to keep monitoring my progress and update this post about my results.
- Turmeric and ginger roots: I’m blending turmeric and ginger every day with a couple of carrots and an orange (vitamin C). This delicious and fresh smoothie has been helping me manage inflammation naturally.
- Comfrey Salve: I discovered comfrey in Hawai’i while I was researching for ways to reduce the swelling naturally. Comfrey contains anti-inflammatory properties (2) and can help reduce swelling and pain. I purchased the salve in Hawaii.
- Since it’s a little hard for me to exercise or foam roll, I’ve been using the Spoonk mat to help me release back and hip tightness.
How I’m Mentally Coping With This Recent Injury
I lived with chronic pain for years before breaking free. It’s safe to say that I’m experienced in dealing with chronic injuries.
However, managing an acute injury has been a little different. It’s good to have a timeline and know the bone should healing in 6-8 weeks. However, not being able to move during my long overdue, and much more anticipated, vacation felt like a huge disappointment. I was told to not put any weight on my foot for at least 6 weeks. That means no more lifting weights or exercising for a while. It was not easy to accept that.
In addition, I’ve also been fearful of experiencing flare-ups or ‘re-awakening’ previous chronic injuries. Feeling tightness in my lower back gave me the creeps. I know my body is compensating and I’m certainly worried this compensation will lead to muscle imbalance.
As I write this post today, it’s been four weeks since I broke my toe. Yesterday I decided to do a short home workout, and It was challenging. I can tell that I lost strength. I completed a few seated exercises with 10 lbs dumbbells. I foam rolled my legs. I also completed a few upper body bodyweight exercises: push-ups on my knees, plank on my knees and banded bridges. I put most of my weight on my heels.
At this point, I can certainly lift heavier weights while seated and train my upper body. Before I attempt to do any lower body exercises standing, I’m going to assess muscle imbalances and follow a rehab plan to avoid compensation when lifting weights. It’ll be very similar to the assessment exercises I have inside the Piriformis Control program.
I decided to give my body at least 3 weeks before I start exercising. I had to manage the inflammation first. While I continued to move around using the boot and the crutches, I didn’t want to abuse my injured foot, which can only delay healing. It’s important to respect the healing phase and let the body recover.
In the meantime, I’ve been supporting my body with adequate sleep and I increased my consumption of the above foods and supplements.
I’m also using this time to rest and just focus on my health, meditate more, and catch up on reading. Yes, it’s been extremely hard to not work out and exercise. But, one thing that’s been really helping me cope with this is to consider the healing phase as a crucial time to allow my toe to heal properly so I can go back and train again without any future complications. I have months ahead of me to catch up on my training and rebuild my strength.