How do you return to sports after removing a cast from your foot?
Last update: 1 June 2021
In most cases, a cast on the foot or leg necessitates a substantial decrease in athletic exercise.
It’s understandable to want to get back on the field or in the gym after an extended absence.
However, it is important not to rush the body by cutting back in order to prevent aggravating the injury in remission.
When it comes to getting your foot or leg going again after a cast, there are three things to bear in mind.
1. Take care of your foot in remission
It’s enticing to get straight back into your athletic routines.
And if you believe you’ll be able to return to running or basketball soon, reality will catch up with you.
This reality is that resuming physical practices too quickly risks interfering with the injured limb’s healing process.
Furthermore, immobilization of the foot or leg for an extended period of time has a major impact on the ability to walk.
We’re talking about musculoskeletal symptoms like:
- Stiffness in the ankle and toe joints;
- Mild discomfort in the recently immobilized leg;
- Atrophy of the muscles of the leg and foot;
- Lameness when walking;
- Muscle weakness;
- A foot that has difficulty straightening;
- A dry skin on the recently cast-clad foot.
2. Gradually reactivate your muscles
Rehabilitation of the leg is a crucial step in the fitness process after a cast is removed.
While some of the rehabilitation can be done in a physical therapy clinic, other exercises are your responsibility.
Here is a list of movements that you should perform several times a day to gradually mobilize the structures of your leg and foot:
- Work on ankle flexion:
- Sit on the floor;
- Slowly bend your ankle up and down;
- Repeat this movement about twenty times.
- To facilitate the rotation of the foot:
- Lie or sit on the floor;
- Slowly try to draw an imaginary circle by rotating your foot clockwise;
- Repeat this process in reverse;
- Repeat these movements about twenty times on each side.
- To reinforce the calf muscles, do the following*:
- Get a chair;
- Stand behind it;
- Lean against the back of the chair and lift on your toes;
- Hold this position for 3 seconds;
- Go back down and repeat this action 10 times, performing 2 or 3 sets.
- To regain your balance*:
- Stand on the weakened foot;
- Try to hold this position for as long as possible;
- Give yourself about 3 minutes to perform the exercise.
* These movements can only be done if you are able to walk without help and with the doctor’s permission.
3. Wait for the podiatrist to give you the green light
The podiatrist is an excellent judge of your readiness to restart exercise after the cast is removed.
They may, however, try to recognize the symptoms of successful recovery before encouraging you to resume your activities:
- Your ankle has regained its range of motion;
- The muscles in your leg and foot have regained their strength;
- You have proper balance;
- You no longer feel pain, even with large movements;
- The swelling has completely disappeared.
Despite the positive findings, further rehabilitation steps to prepare the foot could be required.
If this is the case, the podiatrist will advise on the best course of action.