How do I rehab my formerly broken foot?
May 28, 2008 9:22 PM   Subscribe

My broken foot is healing rather nicely. I'm off my crutches and walking on the boot. My orthopedist gave me some instructions for stretching and rehabbing, but they weren't very specific. How can I do better physical therapy at home?

I fractured the base of my fifth metatarsal seven and a half weeks ago. As instructed by my orthopedist, I wore the big velcro boot and used my crutches with no weight bearing for six weeks. As of last Thursday, I'm allowed to walk on the boot, and after two weeks or so, I'm supposed to transition to a stiff shoe. There's virtually no pain from the actual break anymore, but as would be expected, my calf, foot, and especially ankle are extremely stiff and weak. There's also still a fair bit of swelling and general foot puffiness, soft tissue ache, and some weird nerve tingly stuff that she said was all normal.

My doctor said she would have liked to put me in physical therapy, but since I don't have insurance, it's just much too expensive. She told me to rotate my ankle in both directions, do figure eights and write the alphabet with my toes. She suggested I do so five-ish times a day for at least 10 minutes. Later, I'm supposed to start doing calf lifts and maybe get some therabands.

I've been rotating my ankle like a mad man, and I can already tell it's helping. Even though it's pretty uncomfortable when I start, I've got a much bigger range of motion in my ankle and a not entirely unpleasant sort of post-exercise soreness (which she also said was normal).

My concern is that my orthopedist was kind of rushed and not as specific as I would have liked in terms of how to do the rehab stuff. Of course, physical therapy is the way to go, but since I can't make that happen, I was wondering what I can do to be the best at home ankle rehabber I can be.
posted by mostlymartha to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Be consistent.

Professional rehab or home rehab, it all comes down to consistency. Remember to use the full range of motion in all directions. Here are some illustrated foot and ankle exercises to get you started.

Good luck with that foot.
posted by 26.2 at 10:05 PM on May 28, 2008

Sit in a chair and roll a can of soup back and forth on the floor with your foot. That's good for stretching. You can also use a small ball. Stretch bands help with strengthening. If you can get the kind with a loop-handle on one end to put your foot through, even better. Tie one end of the band to a door knob, then pull and stretch the band with your foot. Simply massaging your foot and ankle with your fingers can also provide range of motion benefit.
posted by netbros at 10:10 PM on May 28, 2008

I had a similar break when I was a kid and I was in a cast for twelve weeks -- an ungodly long time. Things I remember from physical therapy: an extensive warmup in this weird sand machine and stretch band pulling. I think I spent some time on the treadmill.

Really, though, the ankle rotation is where it's at. I broke my foot fifteen years ago (yikes) and my ankle still pops every time I do that. I'm doing it right now! It definitely became a habit, but I walk just fine.

I hope you feel better soon!
posted by sugarfish at 10:26 PM on May 28, 2008

If you have access to a swimming pool you can walk in it. Use a stationary bike with no resistance at first and short times - 10 minutes at first and gradually add time. Stand sideways on a stair with your weight on your injured foot and bend your knee, hanging your good foot off. Get a bunch of marbles and pick them up with your toes and drop them in a bowl. These and the exercises people mentioned above were the main ones I did in PT after breaking my ankle. And you may well find you want to take some pain relief before you start doing all of this more intensively. good luck!
posted by leslies at 4:07 AM on May 29, 2008

When I had a broken ankle, my therapist had me take a ball to work (the size you play kickball with and they sell in those big cages at the grocery store) and just roll it around with my foot while I sat at my desk. Try and keep your whole foot on the ball the whole time. Very helpful, although whenever I left the room my coworkers would swipe the ball to play with.
posted by JanetLand at 5:17 AM on May 29, 2008

Put a book on the far end of a towel and pull the towel toward you with your toes. Repeat. This is fantastic for your tendons and muscles around the 5th metatarsal.
posted by cachondeo45 at 5:52 AM on May 29, 2008

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