In the middle of August, I had the toenail removed from my left big toe. As such, I've been out of the gym since, mainly because any slight movement caused pain as my toe was healing.

My toe has healed up slightly, but I still cant' wear closed toe shoes. However, I'm beginning to notice atrophy in my muscles. Are there any workouts, strength or bodyweight, that I could do in the meantime until I can go back to the gym that won't impact my toe? Basically I can't put pressure on my toe, like bounce on it.

I was thinking ab workouts like bicycle kicks, leg raises, possible side planks and Russian twists could work.


Depending on how comfortable you are with not putting weight on your toe, pretty much anything is valid. Properly done third-world squats should not be putting any real weight on your toe (less than walking, certainly). Hindu Squats, of course, are out. Pistol squats on the one leg probably ought to be fine. In terms of machines, most of them should not be directly involving your toes, or at least should be easy enough to modify to push with your heels.

The other concern, of course, may be foot safety. I know many people are leery of being barefoot or wearing sandals in a gym. Personally, I've never had an issue — and I think that most sneakers won't do much to protect your foot anyhow — but your mileage may vary.

Lastly, while the weather is still nice, consider making use of a swimming pool, at least as long as your toenail situation doesn't involve an open wound. The water will help support you. There may be some mild discomfort from the water pushing against the nail bed, but it will be pretty minor in my experience. If the toe isn't all the way off (a hangnail), you might also want to either clip it down or to tape it down with something water-resistant, because the nail flopping about in the water definitely can be painful.

On a side note, I've been where you are. I've lost the nail on my big toe at least three times in my life, and I've suffered from ingrown toenails a few times. Honestly, it's more or less a matter of a combination of learning ways to avoid putting weight on the toe and occasionally pushing through the pain.

  • It isn't just my legs that are atrophying. They've actually been kept up nicely because I'm so heavy. It's the rest of me that's getting in poor shape.
    – 9Deuce
    Sep 4 '15 at 16:15
  • 1
    Ah. Well, anything that doesn't require your toes should be easy, right? :) Probably no running for you, but benching weight, etc, should be daisy. Sep 4 '15 at 16:24
  • I think I was mainly scared of what you mentioned in the 2nd paragraph of your answer. Foot safety. I do a lot of standing workouts that I don't want to risk doing in flip-flops or barefoot. I'll probably just stick to dumbbells and ab work.
    – 9Deuce
    Sep 4 '15 at 19:01
  • Ah. One alternative, as long as you don't mind looking a little silly, is boots. They tend to have a much higher told, so you're not likely to hang your injury just standing there. And they provide superior for protection, especially with steel reinforcement. Sep 4 '15 at 19:44

Yes, there are plenty of upper body workouts you can do with an injured toe(bench press, bicep curls, seated shoulder press, seated row, etc.) As for lower body, you're kind of stuck a little bit for barbell exercises, but you could certainly continue to do leg curls and leg extensions on the machines!:)

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