Captain Quinn to the rescue

In yesterday’s post, “Ask and ye shall receive. Really.“, I talked about the importance of reaching out for help, particularly in the health arena. I injured my foot a few months ago and found out last week that I’d actually managed to break it. I wanted to know whom to see–a top-notch orthopedist as old breaks can be problematic–and how to stay in shape if I were to have to withdraw from my fitness class. My normal approach would be DIY: conducting online research to find the doctor and learn about my fitness options. But this time was different. I sent emails and called people who I thought might be able to help me. All responded, one of whom was Jon Quinn, the head of Captain Quinn’s Fitness Boot Camp.

Jon is one of those guys whom the rest of us would love to hate if we could come up with a reason (it’s actually quite difficult). He has all the features a classically stereotyped heterosexual woman would love–charm, intelligence, good looks, physical fitness, a great sense of humor, and….a job. In addition to working as a personal trainer and teaching hour-long fitness classes five days a week (at two different times on MTW), he has a full-time job. And then there’s that other quality: he’s nice. All good reasons for a guy to hate him, right? But it’s proven to be impossible. (By the way, there’s something for single women at the bottom of this post.)

An hour after sending Jon an email about how I can stay fit if I have to stay off my foot, I get his response–a set of exercises for me to discuss with the orthopedist I’m seeing today. His email appears below (with his permission, of course).

Hey Jeff. Here’s what I put together. Am I to assume you’ll be doing these at home or will you still try to come out to class?:

Exercising with a Broken Big Toe

The simple answer is that anything that doesn’t put pressure on your toe is fair game (pending agreement from your doctor) as long as you’re not causing undue stress on other joints and/or muscles as a result of favoring the toe with awkward or uncomfortable positions.

On the cardio front, I would say biking is your first choice IF you can do it without putting weight on your toe (peddle using your mid-foot or heal). Intervals are key when you’re training the heart and lungs so look for hills you can push yourself on (just inside your comfort threshold) for 30-60 seconds at a time followed by 30-60 seconds of rest (rest as long as it takes fr you to be able to talk or, my favorite test: sing the lyrics of your favorite song. Repeat this pattern 7-10 times and you’ll have had a great low impact cardio workout.

If the doc says biking is out, an at home option would be repeated shallow squats (feet should width apart, back straight, weight on your heels, bending the knees just a little as though you’re intending to sit down then stand back up while simultaneously “raising the roof” with your arms. Repeat. Quickly. Move your body and arms frequently enough and you can work up a good sweat pretty fast. If the legs get tired, you can keep the arms going. Feel free to experiment and add variety (arms forward, arms to the side, combinations, etc). The important thing is that you have as much of your body moving as possible.  As with the biking, you can experiment with intervals and intensity. Make yourself sweat. That’s the bottom line.

This may sound crazy, but getting out and doing some long, fast paced walks on crutches (if you get stuck with them) could also be great exercise. You’ll work the heart, core, arms, shoulders, and one leg all together. For safety’s sake, I’d advise you to do your brisk crutch racing on grass at least initially until you get comfortable with the movement.

On the strength front, just about anything we do at Captain Quinn’s Boot Camp for the core and upper body can can be done in a foot cast. You’ll just need to either sit down or position yourself with a staggered stance (one foot forward and one back) so you’re not, once again, putting any pressure on the toe. If you’re looking to workout at home, you can order a set of resistance bands like we use at bot camp here:


Doing any of the various band exercises like the overhead press, the bicep curl, the tricep press, the lateral side raises, etc (they also come with some suggestions) at lighter resistance for prolonged periods (60-90 seconds) will simultaneously work the muscles and get the heart pumping. If bands (or dumbells) aren’t in the budget, water bottles, soup cans, books, or whatever you can find two of will also work. Again, as with above, if you can make yourself sweat and get yourself slightly winded (always with proper alignment and form!) you’re doing something right.

The classic push-up can still be done on your knees and done in fast repetition with short breaks between sets can get the heart pumping too. Likewise with our good friend and favorite core exercise: the plank.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you want more detail.

So there you have it. Irrefutable proof of “ask and ye shall receive”. It might also be that Jon is one very cool dude. And that mention earlier of something for single women? Jon happens to be single at the moment as well. 🙂

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  1. Ears ringing, face smiling | Ciao, Cancer!