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5 Things I Learned When I Broke My Foot

March 14, 2020

As a yoga instructor, the health of your body is one of your most important assets. In my years of practicing, I have given gratitude for my body’s capabilities multiple times a day. I have people close to me with mobility issues, and it has been heartbreaking to see really active people struggle with knee and foot pains that hampered their ability to do what they love the most, like walking outside or playing golf. 

I’ve always been super-active. I exercise daily, often a couple hours a day, walking around my neighborhood, taking yoga classes, lifting weights, playing golf, you name it. Besides jamming my fingers in college (thanks intramural flag football and kickball), I haven’t had any major injuries, even after a roll-over car accident.

This past December, the Saturday before Christmas, I hopped off a light rail platform after a Suns game to cross the street. I broke my foot – the fifth metatarsal, which is the long bone below the pinkie toe and one of the most common bones to break, according to my surgeon. I landed flat on both feet, a jump from not too high of a distance, yet the bone broke and required surgery.

Whether you are a yoga teacher or work a day job, here are some things to be aware of that breaking my foot taught me. Hopefully you’ll never have to go through a similarexperience yourself, but if you or someone you care about does, these tips might help.

1. Avoid Breaks in the First Place

Hopping off a short platform seemed like no big deal for me. I have spent plenty of time at the gym hopping on and off of boxes and huge tires and never had a problem. As a yogi, balancing postures are my favorite and I always push myself with whatever I’m doing.

Breaking your foot as an active person is humbling. Breaks can happen to anyone, from the most random of circumstances. 

I’ve always taken my health seriously, but now I realize as a fitness instructor how much more important it is to take precautions. In the future, I’m going to avoid jumping rope barefoot on a hard floor (which I used to do), jumping on apparatus at the gym and jumping from heights in general. 

If you love jumping as a fitness activity, take it from me to proceed with caution. One of my nurses broke her foot last year from jumping on a box at the gym. 

Always wear proper footwear when exercising, and be smart about risky activities. Rethink hopping over fences or jumping from heights in general. As a fitness instructor, I will never again do anything risky like jumping on and off of things, even when it seems safe.

2. Make Sure You Have Health Insurance 

As mentioned, I was in a roll-over car accident and had to be helicoptered to a hospital. Seeing the $30,000 bill back as a college student forever cemented into me the importance of having health insurance. 

I’m self-employed but would never neglect having health insurance. I pay around $260 a month for a private plan now, and am so grateful that I probably won’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket for this foot injury, which will cost around $15,000 total including surgery, physical therapy and countless doctor’s visits.

I know people, including self-employed fitness instructors and restaurant servers, who don’t have health insurance because of how expensive it is. But knowing that accidents can happen to anyone, I would never, ever take the risk of not having health insurance. 

Your health should never be neglected because you can’t afford treatment. Save money for health insurance by cutting costs where you can. Maybe cancel that subscription you never use, or cook more instead of eating out. Health should be a priority, and healthcare is costly without insurance.

3. Embrace Change

Right before my broken foot, I was looking forward to increasing the number of yoga classes I teach each week from two to four. I was studying a new sequence and getting excited to expand my experience as a teacher.

I also am typically busy. I am a full-time self-employed writer working an 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. job. Besides teaching, I have season tickets to the Suns, go to concerts, play golf every week and enjoy spending time with friends and trying new activities in the Valley.

After I broke my foot, all that was put on hold. Not being able to place weight on my foot and moving around on a knee scooter drastically decreased what I could schedule in my life. Thankfully, I took on even more work and was able to triple my income with a broken foot. 

I also got a library card and read more than a dozen books. My faves out of what I read: “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” by Khaled Hosseini, and “All Our Names,” by Dinaw Mengestu.

Rarely is anything fully in our control. I love being social and busy, but having a broken foot forced me to spend more time alone than ever. But, like anything we face in life, I still was grateful for what I had. I was grateful to have a comfortable home, excellent medical care and safety and security. Know that change, sometimes uncomfortable, is bound to happen in life. It’s how you react to it that matters. 

4. Forgive Yourself When Accidents Happen

One of the hardest things for me after breaking my foot was feeling guilty. As mentioned, I was about to take over two new classes a week, which was supposed to start the week of my surgery. Over the past 3 months, I’ve had to have more than 40 substitute teachers for all my yoga classes. I felt like my broken foot came at the worst possible time, and I felt like I was letting so many people down.

The yoga community at Hot Yoga University never fails to be supportive, though. First, I was so grateful for the abundance of thoughtful messages I received from fellow instructors, as well as students. To hear from people who had also experienced broken bones and who could empathize was incredibly comforting.

Second, the support I received and encouragement to take the time I needed to heal was tremendously helpful. I learned that I didn’t let people down. The whole experience gave people who mean so much to me the opportunity to be there for me in a really tough time. That sense of community and caring is one that I will definitely pass on to anyone else who is going through something similar.

Accidents are just that – accidental. When an accident happens, it’s important to release any guilt and embrace the help you get. I am so thankful for close friends, family and coworkers who were there for me. The experience has made me understand so much better what people going through surgery are experiencing, and I am prepared to help those who might need it in the future.

5. Trust the Universe

I took a Yoga Nidra class recently, and one of the messages in it really resonated with me. It was something along the lines of, “Whatever happens is meant for your growth and evolution.” 

Sometimes the hardest times in our lives are the most important. Losing my beloved dog to cancer was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. It reminds me to always be present in every moment with my pets and all my loved ones. 

Breaking my foot made me grateful for so many things, like:• Being able to take a shower on two feet and get fully wet• Being able to sleep in any position I want• Being able to walk outside and enjoy the fresh air and nature as I walk• Being able to run and balance on one foot• Being able to walk upstairs and sit at any seat I want at a sporting event or other entertainment event• Being able to drive when I need to• Being able to get a full-body massage• Being able to navigate a kitchen without having to maneuver a knee scooter

The list goes on and on. I can’t imagine the difficulties I would have gone through as a writer if I had broken my hand. There’s always a silver lining.

Last fall, I booked a nonrefundable trip to India, a private tour that included lots of walking and a private yoga class. I was supposed to be there for the Holi festival in March, a bucket list trip for me.

After breaking my foot, I was so lucky to have been able to move the trip to next year’s Holi festival 2021. 

Now, with everything that is happening with travel restrictions, I’m incredibly grateful I am here at home. I can’t imagine what being in India in a massive group setting would be like right now, nor how getting back to the States would have been.

Trust the Universe. Whatever happens in your life, there is a good reason. If you look on the bright side of things and remember what you have to be grateful for, you’ll be able to make it through having learned valuable lessons and evolving from the experience.

Know Someone with a Broken Foot? I’m Here to Help

I’m incredibly grateful to be back on my mat teaching at HYU. I know that breaking a bone, having surgery or going through another medical challenge can be difficult. 

I’d love to help anyone who has questions about the process or who might need advice or support. Connect with me on Instagram at Instagram.com/nickiescuderoyoga, and let me know how I can assist. 
Nicki RYT-200