Physical Therapy & Exercises for a Broken Ankle

Updated April 17, 2017

A broken ankle can happen anywhere to anyone from athletes to non-athletes. Sometimes something as simple as stepping off a curb at a wrong angle can result in a break. An ankle fracture means one or more bones have been broken or separated making the ankle very unstable. A broken ankle will be followed by severe pain, intense swelling and bruising. It will be tender to the point that you will not want it touched. Healing from this injury is time consuming, and patients must take care to avoid overusing the ankle too quickly. Your doctor will likely recommend physiotherapy and exercises to speed recovery and strengthen the ankle.

Stretching and Extensions

Allow at least six weeks to recover and, if you're an athlete, at least six months before returning to the level you were at prior to the injury. Your doctor will prescribe exercises that will improve flexibility and strength. To begin, loop a standard bath towel around the ball of the foot while remaining seated in a chair. Extend your leg outward, holding tight on to the towel and gently pull the towel in towards your torso. Hold this position for seven to ten seconds and then release the tension. Repeat this towel stretch three or four times; this will gently extend muscles around the ankle and the hamstrings, resulting in a thorough and complete stretch.

Range of Motion

Once you have begun stretching the muscles you will need to move onto exercises that help with range of motion. While sitting or lying on your back, straighten your legs out in front of you. Turn your foot inward, then outward and then in a full circle. Repeat this exercise several times to warm the muscles up. Once you are comfortable with these movements, you are able to move onto a more aerobic exercise.

Aqua Exercises

A buoyancy belt is a belt that will keep you afloat in water. By using this belt you can swim and do aerobic exercises in the water without putting too much weight or impact on your ankles. This will improve circulation, reduce swelling and increase flexibility and mobility. Since you can continue to exercise throughout your treatment with a buoyancy belt, you will recover faster because your overall fitness will not decline. Once your injury is completely healed ,you can purchase one of these and begin exercising in the water soon after.

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About the Author

Jan Weiss is a freelance writer living in Northern California. She regularly writes reviews on local restaurants and businesses as well as for and numerous contributions to eHow. With more than 15 years in the art business, Weiss has become well known in this arena and is collaborating on a guide to the art publishing business, which will be published as an e-Book.