How to Stay Active when Recovering from Foot and Ankle Problems that Require Immobilization.
Treatment of orthopedic problems tend to require a period of extended recovery. The biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system involves an intricate series of moving parts. The body’s bones, muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, and other connective tissues need time to rest, repair and realign.
Whether due to injury or surgical intervention many foot, ankle and lower extremity disorders require a period of inactivity or immobilization in casts, walking boots or braces before patients can return to their normal activities. For many of my patient’s this is an “antsy” time. They are eager to get back to their routine but their body is not quite ready. A physical and chemical process occurs when the cells and tissues of your body are healing. How much time does your body need for recovery? There’s no single answer for this, as everyone is different. Variables like age, fitness level, sleep, nutrition, and stress can affect recovery as well as the procedure itself and underlying systemic problems (diabetes, arthritis, circulatory) that effect your overall health. It is well-known that staying active can help you feel better and for those patients who are physically engaged in a regular exercise program their mind will crave the need to keep moving. Being active is part of a healthy lifestyle however being too active too early after an injury or surgery may disrupt or delay healing.
As a physician it’s important to offer suggestions on how patients can stay active when they are immobilized. As a patient you should ask your doctor about what you can safely do during this period of recovery to keep your muscles engaged.
Here are a few ways to stay active when recovering from foot and ankle problems that require immobilization. The primary goal of physicians and surgeons who treat disorders and injuries that require immobilization of bones and joints is to protect them to promote healing. Depending on the reason for the imposed limitations needed during recovery certain activities may be more suited to your condition so always consult with your treating physician for individual recommendations.
Chair yoga modifies yoga poses so they can be done while seated in a chair. These modifications make yoga practices more accessible to people who lack the stability or mobility to move or stand. With the help of a chair, you can still take advantage of all the positive benefits of yoga while keeping your injured foot or ankle safe. There are even some yoga practices that can be done lying in bed.
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Latex resistance bands can be used for upper body exercise. Some systems provide color-coded progressive resistance bands from light to those with increased difficulty to customize your workouts.
Something as simple as stretching can have incredible benefits and is a safe way to maintain flexibility during recovery. Stretching helps the lymph fluid move throughout the lymphatic system, a network of tissues and organs that circulates protein-rich lymph fluid throughout the body. Maintaining an active lymphatic system promotes a healthy movement of nutrients and waste, releasing blockages, preventing swelling and stiffness. Practice stretching by moving your arms above your head; hold the pose for five seconds and bring it down; repeat the motion four more times.