The ancient Egyptians are known for their highly advanced medical skills, which often consisted of cutting off things that didn't work well anymore. If you stubbed your toe while working on a pyramid construction site, the royal physician probably would have amputated the painful digit. The good news is that the ancients were also skilled in the art of prosthetics and would have fitted you with a wooden toe, adorned with a carved toenail. While your stubbed toe isn't in danger of being amputated, you do need to give it time to heal. You'll need to accept the fact that your stubbed toe will limit and probably postpone normal exercising until you've recovered.
Rest and Recover
The primary treatment for a stubbed toe is rest. The chances are good that if you've stubbed it badly enough to cause it to swell and discolor, it's fractured or broken. While only an X-ray can tell for sure whether you've sustained a fracture or break, even a sprain from stubbing the toe is just about as painful. Rest as much as you can, keep the weight off your foot when possible and avoid activities that cause you pain for several weeks.
Elevate your injured foot above your heart at every opportunity. Apply ice packs to your stubbed toe for 20 minutes at a time. Remove the pack for 20 minutes and repeat. Use ice four or more times daily over the next several days while swelling and discoloration are still present. Take acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and inflammation. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.
Passive Range of Motion
Begin exercising your toes very gently, and stop if it hurts. Simple, gentle range-of-motion toe exercises can relieve some of the pain and swelling by improving the circulation in your foot. Bend your injured toe gently with your fingers, and hold it there for five seconds. Slowly straighten the toe back out and relax for five seconds. Repeat 10 times. Do this three times daily.
Towel Pickup and Stretch
Toss a towel on the floor in front of you. Pick it up with your toes, keeping your heel flat on the floor. Drop the towel and repeat 10 to 20 times.
Sit down on the floor and stretch your injured foot out in front of you. Slip the towel around the ball of your foot and grasp the ends of it with your hands. Keep your knee straight while pulling the towel toward you. Hold your foot in that position for 15 to 30 seconds. Relax your foot and repeat three times.
Stand up and hold onto a chair or countertop. Shift your weight onto the support and slowly raise yourself up onto your toes. Hold the position for five seconds. Lower yourself to the floor slowly and repeat 10 times. Do three sets of 10. When this exercise becomes less painful, try doing it on the injured foot only.
Stand up and distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Keep your feet flat and rock backward, shifting your weight onto your heels. Raise your toes off of the floor and hold the position for five seconds. Repeat 10 times and do three sets.
Substitute nonweight-bearing exercises such as swimming or bicycling for your regular workouts. These activities will exert far less pressure and pain on your stubbed toe than any others.