Exercises for Rehab From Ankle Surgery

Immediately after surgery for an injured ankle, it's important to rest the ankle to allow it to heal. But after the initial resting period, the ankle must be exercised gradually to help regain a full range of motion. Rehabilitative exercises also increase flexibility, restore balance and strengthen the weakened ankle to foster healing and protect against future injury.

Range of Motion Exercise

1.     Even in the first few days after the surgery, combating stiffness is crucial. An injured ankle that has been immobilized for an extended period of time stiffens, making walking, running and jumping more difficult. One of the first basic exercises you can do after the injury to recover your ankle's mobility is to sit with your injured leg extended. Then, pull your toes toward your chest. Repeat this exercise as much as possible in the first 10 days after the surgery.

Flexibility Exercises

2.     Continue to fight stiffness by stretching your weakened leg muscles to help regain flexibility. Start by stretching your calf muscles. While sitting with your leg outstretched, loop a towel around the bottom of your foot. Taking both ends of the towel in your hands and keeping your leg outstretched and knee straight, pull the towel toward your chest until your upper calf is stretched. You also can stretch your heel in this position by bending your knee and pulling the towel until your heel and calf are stretched. Once you can stand, try stretching your calf against the resistance of a wall. With your arms pressing against the wall, the injured ankle behind the other, toes facing forward, ankles firmly on the ground and back straight, bend your front knee until you can feel the calf of the back leg stretching. For best results, perform 6 to 10 repetitions of each of these exercises five to seven days per week. Hold each exercise for 20 to 30 seconds, making sure not to bounce.

Strengthening Exercises

3.     To provide better support for your ankle, rebuild your leg strength with a serious of exercises. To work out your front shin, place a chair next to a wall, so when you sit in the chair, your injured leg is closest to the wall. Take a seat with both your feet flat on the floor and injured foot pressed against the wall. Then, press the ankle against the wall and hold for three seconds. You also can build up your inner shin while sitting by pressed your two flattened feet against each other, again holding for three seconds. Complete at least three to four sets of 20 repetitions of these strengthening exercises per week.

Balancing Exercises

4.     An ankle injury can make it more difficult to steady yourself on your ankle again, which could cause your ankle to roll and result in another injury. As soon as standing on your ankle is not painful, try this gradual exercise to help regain balance. There are four levels of the exercise. You're ready to move on to the next level after you've been able to hold the level's position and balance on your injured ankle for a full 60 seconds. For the first level, balance on your affected ankle with your arms at your sides and eyes open. Next, cross your arms. After you've mastered that level, stand with your arms out to your side and eyes closed. Finally, balance with your eyes closed and arms crossed. At least six repetitions per day are recommended.


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