With a broken ankle, you must avoid weight-bearing workouts like biking, dancing, running, climbing stairs, or jogging. This is because the exercises could increase your recovery time.
So then, how to exercise with a broken ankle? Concentrating on upper-body workouts is the best exercise with a fractured ankle. You can do these exercises while seated or lying down to avoid straining the ankle joints.
For example, you can do seated bench presses, seated bicep curls, shoulder presses, or traditional crunches. But how do you perform these workouts? Below is a step-by-step guide on how to exercise with a broken ankle.
Different Ways To Exercise With A Broken Ankle Table
Let’s look at the various exercises to do when you have a fractured ankle and the equipment you need.
|Type of Exercise
|Best for Strengthening
|Seated Bench Presses
|Chest press machine
|Pectoral muscles, biceps, triceps, and deltoids
|Shoulder, back, and arm muscles
|Shoulder press machine and dumbbells
|Triceps, shoulders, and traps
|Lat Pull Downs
|Pull down machine
|Shoulder girdle, arm, forearm, and upper back muscles
|Seated Bicep Curls
|Weight bench and dumbbells
|Cycling a Stationary Bike
|Hamstrings, calves, glutes, and quadriceps
|Shoulders, hamstrings, abs, glutes, forearms, and back
How To Exercise With A Broken Ankle?
Working out your upper body more intensely is the best exercise with a broken ankle. And, of course, you should do this in a lying or seated position.
So, here are some of the exercises you can do without hurting or straining your fractured ankle.
1. Seated Bench Press
Also referred to as chest press, this workout is designed to exercise the pectoral muscles, biceps, deltoids, and triceps. Here is how to do it:
Step 1: Adjust the Chest Press Machine
- First, sit on the machine with your back flat against the backrest.
- Then, change the seat’s height, ensuring the handles are in the same position as the mid-chest. Also, set the machine at your preferred weight.
Step 2: Start Working Out
- Next up, place your feet on the footrests or floor, approximately shoulder-width apart.
- Then, grab the handles and push them outwards with your back still lying flat against the backrest.
- Extend your arms out without locking the elbows.
Step 3: Return to the Starting Position
- Pause for a couple of seconds with your arms extended.
- Then, bend the elbows slowly and pull the handles towards you or to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement.
2. Pull Ups
This exercise can help improve and strengthen your back, shoulder, and arm muscles. Here is how to do the workouts using a pull-up bar.
Step 1: Position Yourself on the Pull-up Bar
- Stand below the pull-up bar.
- Then, grasp the bar with the palms facing forward and the feet and hands about shoulder-width apart.
Step 2: Pull Yourself Up
- Curve your back a bit with your hands holding the bar, and stick the chest out.
- Pull yourself up until your chin is level with the bar.
- Pause a bit and make sure to breathe out.
Step 3: Lower Yourself
- Next, slowly go down to the starting position while inhaling until your elbows are straight.
- Redo the movement.
3. Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press
Also referred to as shoulder press, this workout targets your traps, triceps, and shoulders. Following are instructions on how to do it.
Step 1: Sit on a Bench
Sit on a shoulder press machine bench with your back lying flat against the backrest. Your feet should be directly under your knees. And for added support and reduced pain, you could put on the best ankle braces.
Step 2: Get the Dumbbells
- Grab a dumbbell on each hand and bring them up to your shoulders.
- Pull the elbows from your body, ensuring they are in line with the wrists.
Step 3: Raise the Dumbbells
- Next, press your dumbbells straight to the ceiling without locking the elbows.
- Then, pause before lowering the dumbbells to chin level.
- Perform as many reps as you can.
4. Lat Pull Downs
These are upper body movements designed to strengthen and activate the arm, forearm, shoulder girdle, and upper back muscles. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform them.
Step 1: Position Yourself
- Sit upright on the pulldown machine, with a slight arch in your lower back and your feet touching the floor.
- Then, tuck your legs firmly under the thigh pads.
- Next, adjust the bar or seat height if necessary.
Step 2: Pull Down the Lat Bar
- Hold onto the Lat bar firmly with a grip a little wider than shoulder-width.
- Pull down the bar until about your chin level toward your chest while keeping the upper torso static.
Step 3: Return to the Starting Position
Slowly straighten your arms to return the Lat bar just above your head to the starting position. Continue with the workout for 8-12 reps.
5. Seated Bicep Curls
Also called seated arm curls, this exercise helps strengthen the bicep brachii muscle without hurting your fractured ankles. Following are instructions on how to do the workout.
Step 1: Sit on a Chair or Weight Bench
- Sit on the edge of a standard chair or workout bench with your back straight.
- Get two dumbbells or objects equal in weight, like water bottles.
Step 2: Lift the Dumbbells
- Hold the dumbbells and let your hands hang by your sides.
- Then, curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders with the elbows tucked close to the body.
- Pause for a while before lowering the weights. Repeat the movements.
6. Traditional Crunches
These basic crunches are meant to work out your abdominal muscles, and here is how to do them.
Step 1: Lie Flat
- Get a mat and lie flat on your back.
- Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor and bend your knees. You can tuck your hands under the head or put your arms across your chest.
Step 2: Lift the Upper Body
- Try lifting your upper body using your abdominal muscles. Be sure to bring your shoulders and head off the mat.
- Lower your body onto the mat and do several reps.
7. Cycling a Stationary Bike
Riding a stationary bike instead of an elliptical training machine is also a good workout if your fractured ankle is in a splint or cast. This exercise may minimize your pain level and increase muscle strength, joint support, and flexibility.
Swimming is not a weight-bearing activity like walking and dancing. Therefore, you could swim recreationally using your arms only and, over time, work the legs in when comfortable. After all, you can swim while wearing a waterproof boot or cast.
Do Broken Ankles Ever Heal Fully?
Yes, but this depends on your age and the severity of the fracture. Basically, low-to-medium-grade fractures that don’t need surgery can take 12 to 16 weeks to heal fully. But even after healing, you must wear ankle braces to prevent further injury.
On the other hand, severe ankle fractures requiring surgery may take up to two years to recover fully. This is because, during the surgery, the doctors may install screws, wires, or metal plates to stabilize the ankle bones. But eventually, the ankles usually heal entirely.
Now, let’s check out some commonly asked questions about how to exercise with a broken ankle.
Q: Can you go to the gym with a broken ankle?
Yes, you can. However, you must limit the workouts to the upper body in a lying or seated position. For other exercises, you must wait to be cleared by your doctor. Typically, weight-bearing workouts are allowed at 4 to 6 weeks after your ankle injury.
Q: Is walking a good way to exercise with a fractured ankle?
No. It would help if you stayed off the broken ankle for proper and quick healing. This is because walking on a fractured ankle can worsen the injury since it is weight-bearing.
Knowing how to exercise with a broken ankle is critical in ensuring you stay fit during recovery. The best exercises are those that don’t strain your ankle, such as pull-ups and seated bench presses. You could also do seated bicep curls, Lat pull downs, or traditional crunches.
Cycling a stationary bike or swimming are other excellent ways to exercise with a fractured ankle. After all, these exercises are not weight-bearing. That said, depending on the severity of the injury, your ankle may take months or years to heal fully.