In order to get back to your normal activities after a foot or ankle injury or surgery, it’s important to implement a conditioning program. A typical conditioning program usually involves various exercises to help strengthen the foot or ankle. A doctor can help determine the best type of program for your specific injury or need in order to get you back to your healthy lifestyle.
If you’ve injured your foot or ankle or recently undergone surgery and your doctor has recommended a conditioning program, here is what you can expect:
What is the purpose of the program? In order to stabilize the ankle joint, it’s important to strengthen the muscles that support the lower leg, foot and ankle. Not only will this help alleviate pain, but it will also help prevent reinjuring the foot and ankle. Additionally, a conditioning program will help increase flexibility and range of motion in the foot and ankle. Proper stretching after performing strengthening exercises will also help minimize soreness in the muscles.
How long is the program? Most conditioning programs last about four to six weeks, unless your doctor suggests otherwise. However, in order to continue progress after the program is complete, it’s a good idea to continue doing these exercises several days a week to maintain both strength and motion in your foot and ankle.
What muscles will be targeted? In a foot and ankle conditioning program, muscles in the lower leg as well as tendons and ligaments that control movement in the feet are typically targeted. These muscles, tendons and ligaments include: gastrocnemius-soleus complex (calf), anterior tibialis (shin), posterior tibialis (center of calf), peroneus longus (outside of lower calf), peroneus brevis (outside of lower calf), soleus (calf), dorsiflexors (ankle), plantar flexors (ankle), invertors (ankle) and evertors (ankle).
What should you know when starting the program? Prior to performing exercises within the program, it’s crucial to warm up with a low-impact activity (such as walking or riding a stationary bicycle) for five to 10 minutes. Once a warm-up is complete, the muscles in the lower leg should be stretched properly. If you feel pain at any point during an exercise, stop and consult your doctor or physical therapist before exercising again.
If you have questions during the program about an exercise, you should ask your physical therapist or doctor to ensure the exercises are being performed correctly. For an example of stretches and exercises that are typically done during a foot and ankle conditioning program, click here. By following the instructions of your doctor and performing the correct stretches and exercises, you can return to normal health in a matter of weeks.