A bimalleolar fracture means that you’ve broken two bones in your ankle, usually the inside bone, or medial malleolus, and the lateral malleolus, which is the bone on the outside of your ankle. Because of the extreme trauma, you often develop scar tissue after your bones have been set and repaired. Surgery to repair the breaks aims to align your ankle to its correct position. Exercises are designed to get you back to full functioning abilities. Always follow the directions of your doctor and physical therapist before trying any new exercise regimen to avoid reinjuring the ankle and creating further complications.
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You can expect to take about six weeks before you can bear weight on the injured ankle. During that time, you’ll most likely wear a cast or boot to hold the bones in place, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Because of the scarring that occurs, you may develop an impinged nerve that can lead to numbness in your foot during this time. Start stretching as soon as your doctor allows to loosen the ligaments and tissue that were damaged. Before you can put weight on your foot, you can perform passive stretches with a towel, according to the Summit Medical Group. Sit on a flat surface and loop a towel around the ball of your foot. Tug very slightly and hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then release. Repeat three times several times a day.
While you begin your transition to becoming more mobile, exercises performed in a pool provide an ideal environment for low-impact workouts. Warm water also helps relieve the swelling often incurred from the scar tissue. According to PhysioRoom.com, you should use a buoyancy belt or flotation device to relieve some of the pressure as you start walking in the pool. While holding on to the sides of the pool, you can practice ankle rotations and leg lifts. Ask your doctor about a plastic cast to use in the water if your ankle continues to need stabilization.
Resistance bands are effective tools for ankle rehabilitation because you can continue to increase the amount of resistance you employ as you get stronger, according to sports injury doctors at PhysioRoom.com. Sit on the floor and loop the end of a resistance band around the bottom of your foot. Hold the other end of the band and slowly push the front of your foot forward to stretch the band. The exercise stretches and strengthens your Achilles tendon and the muscles in the back of your calf. Wrap the end of the band around a pole or other stable surface to work your shins. Loop the other end of the band around the top of your foot and pull the band toward your body.
Ideally, you want to utilize other support muscles in your legs once you begin walking after a bimalleolar fracture. The scar tissue and the lack of inactivity while you’re healing will leave you with tight calf muscles that need to be stretched once you begin bearing weight and resuming your regular activities. According to Summit Medical Group, a good exercise to overcome the decreased flexibility is the standing calf stretch. Face a wall about a foot away and rest the palms of your hands on the wall to maintain your balance. Leave one leg back with your heel flat and bend the knee of the other leg as you move it forward. Turn your toes slightly inward and lean into the front leg. You’ll feel the stretch in the back of your calf. Hold the position for about 30 seconds and release. Repeat three times and then switch to stretch the other leg.