I have recently managed to break my left big toe in training. Because there is a competition in 5 weeks, which I need to attend and perform well, I need experienced advice on:

  1. What exercises I can do to stay in shape while my toe heals
  2. How to recover faster
  • 'recover faster' compared to what?
    – THelper
    Jan 15, 2013 at 13:26
  • @THelper Fair point. I mean faster than the doctor endorsed timetable of 4 weeks before any training and 6 weeks before contact training.
    – astabada
    Jan 15, 2013 at 14:23
  • How bad a break are we talking about? In my experience, most toe breaks get reduced to "do what you can, it'll heal on its own."
    – rjstreet
    Jan 15, 2013 at 15:00
  • 1
    Wow...are you sure that's just the toe? Strongly suggest a doctor's opinion.
    – rjstreet
    Jan 16, 2013 at 2:50
  • 1
    What kind of training were you doing before you were injured? What is the competition and why do you need to attend and perform? I certainly would not recommend someone to do that especially in that short of a timeframe, nor would I do something like that myself and potentially cause further strain or injury.
    – user15
    Jan 16, 2013 at 3:36

2 Answers 2

  1. Get checked by a doctor

  2. Do not do the competition

If you do the competition, you risk permanent damage to your body. And I'm fairly certain that no competition is worth this, although of course, it is your choice. Why permanent damage? five weeks for recovery to -normal- is possible, but to the point of recovering all the added training and strengthening? Nope. A competition will strain your body beyond normal and seriously increase risks of extra damage.

I'm sorry, my friend. This competition is not for you.

  • 3
    With the added following twist: most competition ask that participants be cleared by their doctor. If you injure yourself in a competition when you were instructed by your doctor not to participate, the various insurances that usually cover you (yours, the club's, the competition's) may not pay the much-needed healthcare. Feb 12, 2013 at 15:42

If you haven't already seen a doctor (I'm assuming from your comment above that you already have and that's where the timeline comes from), I'd strongly suggest doing so. Take their advice very seriously: If they say don't compete, then I'd strongly advise against competing.

Beyond that: Let the body do its thing and heal. This means the standard advice applies: Stay off of it, get the proper nutrition and eat at least maintenance-level calories. Don't do anything to exacerbate your injury or the surrounding areas.

A lot of things you wouldn't expect can exacerbate a toe or an ankle injury (I couldn't do pushups with my last sprained ankle). This includes things that do not hurt: walk on it less, even when walking gets to the point where it isn't painful. Listen to your body, and then take a few good steps back from that.

Conditioning wise, I'd limit what you are doing significantly in terms of physical training. If your toe is so bad that you are having issues standing flat footed, the vast majority of technique training is right out. What you can still do is mentally prepare:

  1. Watch videos of people competing in your art or in related arts. Analyze them. Or just watch things that inspire you. It sucks not being able to move, but you can sometimes come back much stronger with a little rest and mental preparation.
  2. Keep attending practice if you can physically make it and watch the class. Teach if you are in a position to do so, but at least watch.
  3. Meditate. Practice breathing meditation, just focusing on your breath and staying present. I've recommended Breath by Breath as a book guide, but there are a wide variety of possibilities out there.

Then, in four weeks or so when you are cleared to return to practice, take things slowly. It will be tempting to rush in, which has a high chance of being disastrous for you. Take it slow.

Then if all is going well, talk to your doctor and see if you are farther along than anticipated, but be ready to bad news. If you do get bad news, then you will have still spent the last five or so weeks productively and shown good dedication, even in the face of an injury.

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