“You need to rest your feet” is one of the hardest sells a podiatrist can make to their active patients. Nobody wants to hear that they can’t go for a run, can’t play their morning basketball game, can’t play golf or tennis until the injury to their heels has had a chance to fully recover.
It’s an unfortunate truth of sports injury treatment: you have to give your body the time it needs to heal. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to cease all your activities. In many cases, you can continue to get great exercise and enjoy the outdoors even while your heel injury is still in recovery—you just need to choose activities that are friendlier on your heels.
Even better—by cross-training in more types or exercise and incorporating low-impact days into your workout or activity plan on a permanent basis, you significantly reduce your risk of injuring your heels again. For example:
- Aquatic exercises. Water is a great environment for exercise. It provides natural resistance and drag, which is great for strengthening muscles—but it also provides buoyance, making it easier on feet and joints. The fact that it feels so good is another big bonus! Going for a swim gives you an awesome cardio workout while placing very little stress on feet and joints. Water aerobics and water jogging are also great, too.
- Cycling. Going for a bike ride might not be the best solution for every foot injury, since you still do need to push the pedals. But it’s a lot easier on feet and joints than running is, and lets you enjoy the great outdoors and varied terrain. In general, 4 miles on the bike is roughly equivalent exercise to 1 mile on foot.
- Elliptical training. If you have an elliptical device in your home or at your favorite gym, you can get a great low-impact workout that is very comparable to going for a run.