Fracturing a bone is bad enough, but when you break your leg, the road to recovery can seem especially long and tedious, even after the cast or splint comes off. Getting strength back in your leg is crucial, but doing so can be painful owing to the stiffness in the joint and lack of muscle mass. Once your doctor has cleared you to begin using your leg again, patience and practice are all you'll need to complete your recovery.
Range of Motion in Joints
Fracturing your leg more than likely means that your ankle or knee was also immobilized while in recovery. Getting your ankle functioning again will help get the rest of your leg back to full strength. Exercises for getting your joints back to normal vary depending on your doctor’s recommended range of motion.
One exercise, the towel stretch, involves sitting on a flat surface such as the floor with your leg extended in front of you. Take a towel run it under your toes and the ball of your foot while holding onto the other end. Pull back slightly on the towel to provide resistance to the ankle joint while pushing your toe back and forth against the towel. Start off slowly and push only your toes down five to 10 times. Push only to the point where you feel no discomfort. As you get stronger, perform more reps and push down farther. If you are in pain, do not continue, and take a day off to rest. This exercise can also be useful for the knee.
Once you’ve begun to build additional strength in the joints that your once-fractured leg uses to keep you standing, you can use the leg independently while carrying out day-to-day activities to help your leg get back in shape. Some suggestions include standing alone on the healed leg while brushing your teeth, opening the mail or waiting in line. This rudimentary activity will begin not only to build muscle mass in the leg but also to rewire your brain to pick up where it left off in trusting your leg as a means of support.
By speeding up the recovery of a fractured bone as well as the pace of developing muscle in a limb that was immobile for a time, a healthy diet can go a long way toward a successful recovery. Diets high in calcium and protein are good not only for bone healing but also for building up muscle mass needed for you to return normal mobility. Look for foods high in calcium as well as vitamin D, as the latter assists the body in absorbing calcium. Milk and yogurts are especially good because they contain the protein and calcium needed for proper bone strengthening and muscle toning.
Don't Favor It If You Don’t Need To
One mistake made by many people who have experienced a fracture is being too gentle with a limb that needs muscle growth. By favoring a part of the body that needs activity, you send mixed messages to your brain and may hinder the additional recovery you need to regain full strength. Try your hardest to return to your normal stride while walking without limping. Go for regular walks to begin to build additional muscle in the leg. If you are experiencing excessive pain or stiffness, see your doctor.