Getting back in shape after an injury

Last month, I broke my ankle. The cast is coming off in two weeks. How can I get back in shape without putting too much stress on my ankle? I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone.

Ankle injuries can be tricky, and if you don’t rehabilitate your ankle properly, you may be more likely to reinjure it. To prevent that, you need to talk to your doctor about physical therapy. A physical therapist will give you specific exercises to rebuild your ankle’s strength and flexibility. He will also be the best person to let you know when your ankle is strong enough for you to resume weight-bearing exercises such as walking or jogging. Non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming and cycling will probably be your best options in the beginning.

When you’re given the okay to resume your regular activities, don’t jump back into them at your pre-injury level. Allow the same amount of time that you’ve been sidelined to gradually work back up to your usual intensity. For example, let’s say you normally jog for 30 minutes four days a week. If you’ve been away from exercising for 6 to 8 weeks, start by just walking for 10 to 15 minutes the first week. Over the next couple of weeks work up to walking for 30 minutes. When that’s comfortable, mix up your walks with some jogging. Space it out so that 6 to 8 weeks later you’re back to jogging for 30 minutes. Caution: If your injury starts to act up at any time, back off a bit. If it persists, talk to your doctor.

In the meantime, you can still do strength training exercises for your upper body and your healthy leg. Some research has even shown that by working just one side of your body, the other side will get some benefit.

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