Physical Therapy, Can You Pick Up Marbles With Your Toes?

Happy Friday!  We made it through another week.  Weekend freedom is near!  Can you believe it’s March 7th?  Already one week into March and the good news is spring is that much closer for those of you suffering a long, cold winter. 

As you know, I’ve been on the mends from my foot injury.  Six weeks ago, I tore my plantar fascia in my right foot.  I was in an air cast boot for three weeks then graduated to wearing a foot brace.  When the doctor initially put me in the foot brace, I was thinking how in the world am I supposed to walk in this?  I was in too much pain and my foot was too weak to walk in it. 

Three weeks ago, I started physical therapy and now I only wear my foot brace when I work out or leave home.  My goals for therapy were to eliminate pain, increase mobility and strengthen the foot/ankle.  Here’s a look at what my physical therapy session consists of.

My Physical Therapy

20 Minute Deep Tissue Massage – I’m not getting the kind of massage that feels good.  This is the cry worthy kind.  During my first one, I thought I would either pass out or throw up.  Earlier this week I screeched and the therapist said “you’re scaring the other patients.” 

15 Minute Ultrasound – My therapist uses an anti-inflammatory gel & applies to my foot with an ultrasound probe.  The ultrasound increases blood flow in the applied area tissues.  Increase blood flow promotes cell reproduction – i.e. accelerated healing.

10 Minute Plantar Fascia Stretch– First, is calf stretch standing with hands against the wall, inflicted foot extended behind the other foot and heel flat on the floor.  Second, is the same stretch, but with the knee bent. 


Third, standing on an angled include or stair to stretch the calf and plantar fascia.


The last stretch is done seated with leg extended, wrapping towel around the toes & pulling toes toward my face.  I do 3 sets of each exercise for 15 minutes. 


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10 Minute Achilles Stretch – I do a series of 4 exercises seated with my leg extended and a resistance band around my toes.  I push my foot toward my face, away from my face, left then right.  I do 15 sets of 3. 

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5 Minute Foot Roll – Ready, set, roll! 


10 Minute Picking up Marbles – I hate this exercise!  I dump a jar of marbles onto a towel and have to pick one marble up at a time and drop it into the jar.  I repeat this twice.  This is by far the most difficult exercise.  I realized the first time I did this how real my injury was.  Even after 3 weeks, I struggle to do this.  The other patients jokingly say, “when are you going to lose your marbles?”     

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15 Minute Electronic Muscle Stimulation – This machine has wires with electrodes on the end that are sticky, which the therapist places on my foot.  The electrodes transmit an electrical current to treat the pain, stimulate tissue healing & improve muscle strength.   The electrodes create a strange sensation.  I’m not exactly sure how to describe it.  It feels like a dull tingling, as if multiple needles are poking my foot simultaneously.  It doesn’t hurt, but I wouldn’t say it feels good either.  Sometimes my foot twitches a few hours later from the treatment.  My therapist wraps my foot in a towel with an ice pack around it to keep it cool from the heat given off by the electrodes.  My foot looks ginormous!

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Since beginning my physical therapy, I am now more mobile and walking as fast as before my injury.  My strength is increasing weekly too.  As for my pain, it’s unpredictable.  While I no longer have knife jabbing pain in my heel, I have cramps and charley horses constantly.  I am told this from healing and scar tissue.  I roll my foot on a golf ball several hours a day to break-up the scar tissue.  It doesn’t feel good, but my foot hurts more when I don’t do it.   


I have physical therapy 3x per week and have 3 more weeks to go. Every week I feel better and stronger.  Injury has its ups and downs though.  For me, my injury has been a mental challenge in accepting my body is on its own recovery timeline & not mine. 

Last Sunday my foot was cramping terribly when I woke up.  I didn’t roll on the golf ball Saturday and paid for it Sunday.  Regardless, I pushed through the pain and went to spin class.  Just before class started, I felt warm tears well in my eyes. Not because I was in pain, because I was upset my foot wasn’t ready to do more yet and I was.  I told myself “Megan, you’re going to kick this scummy feeling and ride this bike like Forest Gump.”  And I tell you what….I SURE DID!!! 

Can you pick up marbles with your toes?  What’s your expereience(s) with physical therapy?  Tell me the good, back & ugly.

Linking up to Amanda @ Diary of a Semi Health Nut 

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  1. says

    I loved physical therapy except for the fact that it was another thing to add onto my already jam-packed schedule. My massage didn’t hurt at all. Mainly because I had a bone fracture so my PT massaged out the muscles surrounding the bones and they were only a little sore. What hurt the most was trying to do my flexion and extenion (I fractured by elbow so I couldn’t fully extend or bend my arm). I also hated having to ice my arm at the end. So cold!

    • says

      I thought I was the only one who didn’t like the ice? They have to wrap it in 3 things for me because I can’t tolerate the cold. Good to know I’m not the only one!

  2. says

    Glad to see it’s getting better! I liked my physical therapy because I felt stronger than I had before since I strengthened my weak spots and stretched the areas that needed to be more relaxed, etc. Interesting stuff!!

    Thanks for linking up to Did You Know! :)

  3. says

    I’ve done all of the above exercises when I fractured my 3rd metatarsal back in college, and I’m with you- the marble pick-ups were by far my least favorite, but they really do help. I tore a ligament in November and have started to do all the things I learned in physical therapy on my own to get some mobility back because the joint is super stiff so it’s back to the marble pick-ups and towel grabs for me, but I’m already noticing a difference with just a couple weeks of it. Hope it heals fast for you! :)

  4. says

    I’ve had mostly good luck with PT although my last few times have been more ART than me doing exercises. I’ve never tried to pick up marbles with my toes! It sounds like it would be hard for anyone 😉

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