Regular exercise and a gradual return to everyday activities are important for your full recovery. Your orthopaedic surgeon and physical therapist may recommend that you exercise approximately 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times a day once you are out of your postoperative dressings. This guide can help you better understand your exercise/activity program, supervised by your physical therapist or orthopaedic surgeon.
Early Postoperative Exercises
Walking - Proper walking in a postoperative shoe is important. At first, you may walk with a walker or crutches. Your surgeon or therapist will tell you how much weight to put on your foot. Stand comfortably and erect with your weight balanced on your walker or crutches. Advance your walker or crutches a short distance; then put your operated foot forward so that the heel of your foot touches the floor first. As you move forward, most of your weight should remain on your heel. You will later be instructed when you can put your entire foot on the floor and when you will no longer need crutches or a walker.
Ankle Pumps - Move your foot up and down rhythmically by contracting the calf and shin muscles. Perform this exercise periodically for two to three minutes, two or three times an hour in the recovery room.
Towel Curls - Place a small towel on the floor and curl it toward you, using only your toes. You can increase the resistance by putting a weight on the end of the towel. Relax and repeat this exercise 5 times.
Toe Raises, Toe Curls - Hold each position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Big Toe Pulls - Place a thick rubber band around both big toes and pull the big toes away from each other. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Toe Pulls - Put a thick rubber band around all of your toes and spread them. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Toe Squeezes - Place small corks between your toes and squeeze for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Marble Pick Up - Place 20 marbles on the floor. Pick up one marble at a time and put it in a small bowl. Repeat with all 20 marbles.
Soon after your surgery, you can gradually begin to walk short distances and perform everyday activities. This early activity aids your recovery and helps you regain mobility.
Walking - Once you are able to wear athletic shoes comfortably, you may begin walking for exercise. Your physical therapist and orthopaedic surgeon will advise you.
Running - Once you can walk pain-free and most of your big toe motion returns, you may begin running. Your physical therapist and orthopaedic surgeon will advise you.
Other Sports - Once you can run pain-free, most patients may return to competitive sports. This includes team sports, aerobics, and step-climbing.
Pain or Swelling After Exercise or Activity - You may experience mild foot pain or swelling after exercise or activity. Elevate your foot and apply ice wrapped in a towel. Exercise and activity should consistently improve your strength and mobility. If you have any questions, contact your orthopaedic surgeon or physical therapist.