Fractures of the leg require a period of immobilization to allow the bone to heal. This can be accomplished with a cast or removable brace, depending on the severity of your injury.
A broken leg can significantly impact your ability to perform daily tasks, such as walking and driving. Rehab is often performed through physical therapy for a broken tibia and fibula to restore range of motion, strength, and functional mobility.
Exercises for a broken leg can begin while your lower leg is still in a cast. Exercises such as straight-leg raises, knee bending, and straightening can keep your hip and knee joints loose and help maintain some leg strength as your bone heals. Below we have shared some helpful exercises to try after breaking your leg.
1. Straight Leg Raises
Straight-leg raises strengthen the muscles around your hips and knees.
Start by lying on your back on the floor. Bend your uninjured knee and flatten your foot on the floor. Lift your straight leg upward. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position.
Perform 1 set of 10 repetitions.
2. Ankle Range of Motion
Active range-of-motion exercises can begin after your cast is removed and can be a key step in improving your mobility. The active movement also helps to decrease swelling. Perform these range-of-motion exercises two to three times each day.
Begin by sitting upright on a chair. Raise your injured foot off the floor and rotate your ankle clockwise, then counterclockwise. Perform 10 repetitions in each direction.
Ankle Flexion and Extension
Begin by sitting upright on a chair. Raise your injured foot off the floor. Point your toes as much as possible, then flex your foot to point your toes toward the ceiling. Perform 10 repetitions in each direction.
Ankle A, B, C’s
Begin by sitting upright on a chair. Raise your injured foot off the floor. Draw the alphabet letters in the air with your big toe, moving your ankle as far as possible in each direction. Perform 5-10 repetitions.
3. Passive Stretching Exercises
Passive range-of-motion exercises are usually first performed by your physical therapist. They can then be prescribed as part of your home exercise program.
Begin by sitting upright on a chair. Raise your injured foot off the floor. Extend your injured leg in front of your body. Loop a towel, belt or strap under the ball of your foot and hold the ends of the strap in each hand. Gently pull the strap towards you to stretch your toes. Stop when you feel a pulling sensation in the back of your calf. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not stretch to the point of pain — this can cause further damage to your healing bone.
4. Ankle Strengthening
Strengthening exercises can be done in a seated, or non-weight-bearing position. A resistance band can be added to range-of-motion activities to strengthen your muscles.
Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of your body. Loop the resistance band under the ball of your injured foot and hold the ends of the band with both hands. Perform resistance exercises in four different directions; pointing your toes down, pulling your foot toward your body, rotating your foot inward, and rotating your foot outward. Perform 10 repetitions in each direction.
5. Train Your Toes
Toe-strengthening exercises help facilitate your recovery by targeting the smaller muscles in your foot.
Begin by sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place marbles on the floor next to your feet. Use your toes to pick up each marble and place them in a cup. Repeat this movement for several minutes. Alternatively, lay a towel flat on the floor and scrunch it with your toes.
As with any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor or Physical Therapist prior to increasing your activity level post-break. It is important for your bone to fully heal before you take on any new strengthening exercises. Listen to your body, and do not push yourself too hard.
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