After foot surgery, you should begin home flexibility and strengthening exercises for the foot only with your doctor’s permission; he will typically prescribe these exercises three to six weeks after surgery. There must be very little swelling and inflammation. Apply a heat pack to your foot and ankle for 20 minutes prior to your foot exercises. This helps to increase the flexibility of your foot. If you experience significant pain with any exercise, stop doing it and consult your doctor.
This exercise is done with a towel opened up on the floor and a soup can on the farthest end of the towel. Towel crunches work the foot muscles on the bottoms of your feet. Do this exercise sitting down or standing up. Begin by placing half your foot on the towel. Bend your toes to scrunch up the towel, pulling the soup can toward you. Reset the towel and rest for one minute. Complete four more repetitions.
Dorsiflexion works the muscle lying on the front of your shins, the tibialis anterior. Sit on a chair low enough so your feet are flat on the floor. Place your uninjured foot flat on top of your injured foot. Bend your injured foot toward you as you exert gentle pressure with your uninjured foot, resisting the dorsiflexion. Do three sets of 10 reps. You may do this exercise with an ankle strap around the top half of your foot and sit so your feet are dangling off a higher chair.
Plantar flexions engage the muscles which point your foot downward. Do this exercise sitting on the floor using a long bath towel. Begin by straightening the leg of your injured foot and loop the towel across the upper half of your foot. Next, push the towel away from you with your foot as you gently pull on the towel, resisting the plantar flexion. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions. Use an exercise band as a variation of this foot exercise.
The one-leg balance is a simple exercise, but you can make it more challenging by closing your eyes. Draw your navel toward your spine to maintain your balance and stability throughout the exercise. Begin by standing with your injured foot on the ground and your uninjured foot an inch off the ground. Balance for 30 seconds. Next, stand with your uninjured foot higher off the ground for 30 seconds. Then, balance on your injured foot with your eyes closed for 30 seconds. Repeat this series two more times.
- “Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Injuries”; Peggy Houglum, Ph.D.; 2005
- “Anatomy & Physiology”; Gary Thibodeau, Ph.D., and Kevin Patton, Ph.D.; 2007