What Exercises Can I Do After Bunion Surgery?

A bunion is a bony bump that appears on the side of the big toe. Usually the result of ill-fitting shoes, most bunions are harmless. Unfortunately, if your bunion becomes so painful that it interrupts your daily activities, your doctor may recommend surgical removal.

The stationary bike is a good exercise to do after bunion surgery. (Image: Eugenio Marongiu/Cultura/GettyImages)

The recovery period after bunion surgery lasts for about six to eight weeks. As the pain subsides, you can begin exercising your foot gently to regain mobility in your ankle, foot and toe.

Tip

Once your foot is healed and your surgeon has given you clearance, perform range-of-motion, stretching and strengthening exercises after bunion surgery.

Exercises After Bunion Surgery

At first, you'll need to rest your foot to let it heal. Once your doctor has cleared you for exercises after bunion surgery, begin with easy exercises like assisted range of motion.

HOW TO DO IT: Grasp your big toe on the injured foot with your opposite thumb and forefinger, just above the toe joint. Use your other hand to grasp the area under the toe joint and gently pull in either direction while allowing your toe to remain straight. Then, push your toe upward and downward, holding for three to five seconds. This will help you regain movement in your big toe.

Say Your ABCs

While bunion surgery mostly affects your big toe, the inactivity can affect the rest of your foot and ankle as well. You can exercise from a seated position to avoid pain and pressure on your foot as you recover.

HOW TO DO IT: Point your big toe and stretch your legs. Curl the rest of your toes under your foot and use your big toe to slowly write out the letters of the alphabet as you swivel your ankle and flex your foot. Once you're done writing the alphabet, write out different names of people, places and things to practice moving your foot.

Use a Towel

As you become stronger and your recovery progresses, you can add elements to your exercise to help you get a deeper stretch in your ankle and foot. A simple towel can help you exercise from a seated position while giving you the best stretch possible.

HOW TO DO IT: Loop a towel around the arch of your foot or have someone loop it for you. Grip the ends of it in either hand and use the towel to slowly stretch your ankle around in different directions. This should not be a painful exercise, so stop if your foot hurts.

Cardio After Bunion Surgery

Once you feel well enough to put weight on your foot, short, daily spurts of aerobic activity can help you heal and regain movement faster. Consider activities, such as a stationary bike, after bunion surgery to limit the amount of weight through your foot. Gradually progress activities, such as walking or jogging, after bunion surgery, under the guidance of your doctor or physical therapist.

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