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Physical Therapy Exercises for an Ankle Fracture Repaired With a Plate & Screws

author image Crystal Welch
Crystal Welch has a 30-year writing history. Her more than 2,000 published works have been included in the health and fitness-related Wellness Directory, Earthdance Press and Higher Source. She is an award-winning writer who teaches whole foods cooking and has written a cookbook series. She operates an HON-code-certified health-related blog with more than 95,000 readers. Welch has a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.
Physical Therapy Exercises for an Ankle Fracture Repaired With a Plate & Screws
Stretching and strengthening maneuvers can improve ankle health. Photo Credit: praisaeng/iStock/Getty Images

Severe levels of ankle fractures may need orthopaedic surgery, which involves repairing with a plate and screws. These stabilizing devices play a major role in properly aligning your ankle bones during healing. After an immobilization period, physical therapy exercises for an ankle fracture concentrate on restoring ankle flexibility and strength. Consult with your doctor first to avoid injury because not all exercises may work for you.

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Reduce Swelling

During the initial stages of recuperation, therapy exercises need to concentrate on reducing swelling. Flexibility maneuvers known as ankle pumps will help, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Lay on your back or sit upright with your legs fully extended in front of you. Gently bend your injured ankle and bring the toes toward your knee. Bend until you feel a mild stretch in your ankle and calf muscles. Slowly bend your ankle and point your toes away from you. Pretend you are pressing down on your car accelerator. Do 10 ankle pumping maneuvers. Slowly return to the original position. Relax for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

Strengthen With Sofas

Exercises need to concentrate on gently strengthening the muscles to better support your ankle joint. Use a sofa as an exercise tool to strengthen the peroneus brevis tendon that prevents your ankle from turning inward, according to the sports rehabilitation website SportsInjuryClinic. Stand and place the inner portion of your injured foot against the bottom of a sofa. Press your foot into the sofa and hold for 10 seconds. Release the tension, relax for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

Utilize Water

Some therapy exercises can be in water, to minimize pain while increasing flexibility and strength. Water's buoyancy supports most of your body weight, taking pressure off the joints and preventing any chance of falling. Exercising in water also strengthens muscles through its natural resistance properties. Improve your ankle functioning by getting into chest-deep warm water while either standing or sitting on a step. Place your back against the pool's side, recommends the University of Washington Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Department. Start doing some ankle circling maneuvers by gently raising your injured leg in front of you while straightening your knee. Gently and slowly start moving your injured-side foot and ankle in the clockwise direction. Make five large circles. Return to the original position and relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times and do it again using counterclockwise circles.

Stretch With Towels

Loosening stiff muscles plays an important role in returning your ankle to a healthy level. Doing some gentle flexing maneuvers can reduce stiffness and work on stretching your muscles even if your ankle cannot bear weight, according to SportsInjuryClinic. Sit on an exercise mat or floor with your legs extended. Place the sole of your injured foot in the center of a towel. Hold each towel end with one hand. Gently pull on the towel until you feel a mild stretch in your calf muscles. Keep your back straight. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. Slowly return to the original position. Relax for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

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