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

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Stretching and strengthening maneuvers can improve ankle health.
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A broken ankle can significantly impact your daily activities — particularly if your bones have to be stabilized with hardware. Broken ankle recovery time after surgery varies based on the severity of your injury, but it's important to allow your bones to heal properly.

After an immobilization period, physical therapy exercises for ankle fracture concentrate on restoring ankle flexibility and strength. You might even begin broken ankle exercises while in a boot if your ankle is stable. It's important to perform these exercises regularly, as advised by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Read more: How Long Should You Wait to Exercise a Sprained Ankle?

Increase Range of Motion

During the initial stages of recuperation, physical therapy for broken ankle surgery focus on increasing range of motion. Perform ankle pumps in a pain-free range.

  1. Lay on your back or sit upright with your legs fully extended in front of you.
  2. Gently bend your injured ankle upward and bring the toes toward your knee.
  3. Bend until you feel a mild stretch in your ankle and calf muscles.
  4. Hold for five seconds.
  5. Slowly point your toes away from you as if you are pressing a gas pedal.
  6. Hold for five seconds.
  7. Slowly return to the original position.
  8. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise in Water

Some therapy exercises can be in water, to minimize pain while increasing flexibility and strength. Weight bearing is prohibited right after ankle surgery, but water's buoyancy supports most of your body weight, taking pressure off the joints, as explained by the University of Washington.

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.

  1. Place your back against the pool's side.
  2. Gently raise your injured leg in front of you while straightening your knee.
  3. Slowly circle your foot and ankle in the clockwise direction.
  4. Make five large circles.
  5. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Read more: The Best Supplements for Bone Healing

Stretch with a Towel

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.

  1. Sit on an exercise mat or floor with your legs extended.
  2. Place the sole of your injured foot in the center of a towel. Hold each towel end with one hand.
  3. Gently pull on the towel until you feel a mild stretch in your calf muscles.
  4. Keep your back straight.
  5. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds.
  6. Slowly return to the original position.
  7. Repeat three times.

Add Some Resistance

Once your bones have healed completely, strengthening exercises are initiated. Using a resistance band allows you to increase the difficulty of the exercise as strength improves.

Perform 10 repetitions of this exercise, working up to three sets in a row, as recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

  1. Sit with your leg straight out in front of you.
  2. Loop the middle of the band around the ball of your foot.
  3. Hold one end of the band in each hand.
  4. Point your toes against the band.
  5. Hold for two to three seconds, then return slowly to the start position.
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