Usually for cross-training I resort to the activities I love most that are physical enough to give me a good workout but are also just plain fun and get my mind off of the “training schedule” mentality of building up for longer, harder trail endeavors. My go-to cross-training activity for years has been rock climbing – it’s a great full-body workout while also maintaining a somewhat laid back, social aspect that allows me to forget that I’m even “working out”. Something I hadn’t considered until recently is that rock climbing – while primarily an upper body activity – also requires one to stand on your toes for the entirety of climbs. The effect of this is two-fold, as it can not only keep your big toe in a hyperextended position, but also keeps your calves engaged, which includes the Achilles tendon.
Minor Hiccups Early in Training
While increasing mileage for my larger objectives, I’ve also been working hard on including more and more elevation training. Running or even power hiking uphill also puts your toes in a similar hyperextended position over and over, especially when the trail is loose and you slip and slide each time you push off. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I now have Turf Toe: tendinitis in my big toe from repeatedly hyperextending as I push off of it. There’s inflammation and some sharp pain when my toe gets hyperextended.
Luckily, I think I’ve caught it at a time when nothing is broken or torn (no bruising at all), and the good ol’ R.I.C.E. formula (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) will hopefully have me on the mend in a few weeks. For now, two weeks of no climbing is on the agenda, as well as ice foot baths, compression socks and buddy taping, and elevating and massaging my feet twice a day.
These types of injuries can sometimes be a good way to check in with the whole body to address any minor complaints, work on strengthening opposing muscle groups, and to work on incorporating more self-care into our routines (foam rolling, stretching, massage, etc.). It goes a long way to keep our joints happy and healthy!