In Ask Maya 12 I’m answering an amazing question about flexibility. I know it’s a hot topic after an injury and especially if the injury is a broken ankle. So this week I’m explaining the 3 stages that everybody goes through after an injury like this.
Jane’s question: “My Achilles feels tight – I only had my cast off yesterday and I’m flexing my foot backwards & forwards as instructed but a bit concerned about my Achilles. Is there anything you could recommend, please? Thank you.“
If you’ve worn a cast at some point, you know how the cold realization of stiffness can hit you. That’s exactly how it was for me in the beginning. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was finally off my cast and completely expecting to hit the ground running.
But instead, it was reality that hit me, hard. My ankle was stiff. (No, make that SUPER stiff!) I didn’t have much dorsiflexion (flex) nor plantar flexion (pointing like a ballerina). And forget about inversion (turning the foot inwards) and eversion (turning the foot outwards). I was able to move an inch (or not even that) and that was it.
Of course, a million questions were racing through my head – beginning with, “Is that all there is to it?” to “Is it even possible to get back the flexibility I once had?”
Is it possible to get my flexibility back?
But in order to get to where you want to be, you will have to consistently do a combination of STRETCHING and STRENGTHENING exercises. AND – take care of other aspects as well. Here’s another article that will help you heaps: 3 Different Ways For Resolving Stiffness After Injury
To keep your flexibility “timeline” in perspective from solely a physical perspective, let’s talk about three stages.Injured ankle? Read this article: 3 Stages Of Recovering The Flexibility Of An Injured Ankle Click To Tweet
The three stages of recovering the flexibility of an injured ankle.
THE FIRST STAGE:
The first stage begins right after surgery. You’re still in bed. You spend the majority of your time on a couch, a chair, or the floor. This is the stage where you aren’t moving around a lot. You’re still on crutches and aren’t allowed to put any weight on your foot.
You can, however, do basic exercises with your ankle without any equipment. These exercises include dorsiflexion, plantar flexion, inversion, and eversion. There are also some stretches that you can do with your hand or with bands. (Quick note: the Iron-Built Flkexible Ankles program guides you from complete beginners’ exercises to advanced ones. It’s also a really fun course. Check it out here >>
At this point, you think you aren’t doing much. (And you may even doubt how something so stiff can eventually “soften”). But you’re already setting the stage for a lot of improvement in the months to come.
THE SECOND STAGE:
The second stage is when you get the green light for partial or full weight-bearing activities. At this stage, your weight helps you go further with your stretches. Every step you make helps with not just stretching your ankle, but with your whole foot (down to your toes), as well!
Remember that I fractured my talus bone. My first stage lasted four months, my second stage lasted almost a year.
Like most injury recoveries, the second stage usually takes the longest. Depending on your injury, it may be longer or much shorter. (Fun fact: for many of my clients, it is way shorter than average because they implement everything that took me years to discover and test.)
Whatever your injury is, know that you are moving forward because you are stretching with your weight or with the help of your weight.
(A lot of people like to stay at this stage – which is why more often than not, this is the longest part of your recovery.) (Note: there’s dozens of exercises in Iron-Built Flexible Ankles for this stage.)
A great recovery is possible, and an injured ankle doesn’t need to stay stiff and sore forever!
Get access to physiotherapist-approved foot stretching and strengthening exercises to improve your recovery and get back to your favorite activities.
THE THIRD STAGE:
This stage is the most fun of all! Since you are now allowed to put your entire weight on your foot, you can start running again. You’ll notice that you can go even further into your stretches and regain full flexibility.
When you do high impact exercises such as running or jumping, remember that it isn’t just your weight. You put 100% of your weight on one foot. This means that if you weigh 150 lbs (around 70 kgs), you put that much load on your ankle. You are putting a lot of pressure on your foot.
Not everyone opts to progress to stage three for many reasons. Reasons vary – age, personal preference… Whatever their cup of tea is, progressing to stage three is a huge leap!
Here’s a really important thing to remember, though:
You’re not going to see major changes in the beginning…
If you’re at the beginning of your recovery, you’re not going to see major changes…YET. You’re not going to get all the flexibility back when you need to be in bed, doing just the basic stretches and exercises. But keep at it and you’ll eventually regain the flexibility.
The secret is PERSISTENCE and CONSISTENCY in doing
the stretching and strengthening exercises.
The combination is CRUCIAL. You cannot do away with it no matter how difficult it may seem at first. It’s also important to know how to go from beginning to end. If you have a physiotherapist guiding you through, then take advantage and of this opportunity and follow their advice. If you don’t (or if you want more for your buck) then I highly recommend my online course, Iron-Built Flexible Ankles.
All the 59 physiotherapist-approved exercises I did (and sometimes still do) are in this handy online course. Access anywhere, anytime.
We often take our bodies for granted.
Our ankles don’t take top billing in the scheme of things. But just a few days ago, I had this conversation with a gentleman recovering from an ankle injury. “You know, I never noticed how important my ankle was till I injured it!”
I couldn’t agree more!
When you injure your ankle, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, or even preparing meals become such huge challenges. So yes, every body part is important!
And you know what – if you’re reading this article and are blessed to be free from any type of injury but are interested in this kind of information, then I highly recommend doing the ankle exercises just the same!
Having strong and flexible ankles means that you decrease the risk of ankle injuries in the future. It also means that you need not wait for a green light to do any of these exercises. Just as pushups, squats, lunges, and other exercises build and strengthen your body, there are many exercises for ankles as well.
Conclusion: yes, it can take a while to regain flexibility BUT it is not impossible. And that sentence that so many of people her from doctors: “The first year is as good as it’s gonna get,” might be true for waaaaay less people than this is shared with.
I wish you the speediest recovery possible, and make sure to check out and join the Iron-Built Flexible Ankles program >>