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Physiotherapy Rehab Protocol After Ankle Surgery for Athletes

Undergoing ankle surgery can be a significant setback for any athlete. The pain isn’t just physical. Sometimes, the fear of not being able to return to the game can be worse.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, we’ve got great news. Specialised physiotherapy can help make your comeback well worth all that pain. Read on to learn how tailored physiotherapy rehab programs are designed to reinstate athletes to their peak performance levels.

The Importance of Personalised Physiotherapy for Athletes Post-Ankle Surgery

Physiotherapy after ankle surgery isn’t only for professional athletes but also for weekend warriors and regular people who may only play with their kids. But as a sportsman, your post-surgical needs and priorities may be different from them. It may even be different from an athlete of another sport.

Hence, personalised physiotherapy is the key to restoring mobility and returning you to sports.

Athletic rehab after an ankle surgery requires going beyond restoring basic functions and rebuilding strength and mobility. It demands addressing the distinct requirements of your daily sport-specific activities.

Physiotherapy for athletes after ankle surgery allows for:

  • Accelerated healing.
  • Enhanced strength and flexibility.
  • Minimise risk of future injuries.
  • A clear and structured path back to peak performance.

Personalised physiotherapy is excellent because it addresses your unique needs and designs the program to go at your pace – not the other way around. We focus not just on recovery but also on optimization of performance and restoring sport-specific function, strength, and mobility post-surgery.

To do that, our physiotherapists modify exercises and customise programs to focus on elements critical to your performance. That helps ensure your timely and safe return to your sport. The aim here is to bring sportsmen (and women!) back to their pre-injury performance levels, or even surpass them.

Trauma, injury and surgery can often shake a person’s self-esteem and self-reliance. This is even more true in the case of an athlete. Beyond physical rehabilitation, physiotherapy offers psychological benefits, equally critical for an athlete’s recovery.

Physiotherapy Rehab Protocol After Ankle Surgery for Athletes: An Overview

The success of your physiotherapy rehab largely depends on how the assessment process was completed. A thorough examination leads to a detailed treatment regimen, which may lead to better and faster recovery. So, a post-surgery ankle rehab protocol begins with a meticulous initial evaluation.

Our physiotherapists ask questions and conduct physical tests to understand your condition. Then, we work with you to create realistic rehabilitation goals.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapists, particularly those with expertise in the athlete’s specific sport, bring invaluable insight into the rehab process. Their familiarity with the sport’s demands and the athlete’s specific position enables them to best tailor the rehabilitation program.

Our physios have worked with footballers in London as well as other sports. That’s why our programs are well-designed and work really well.

Early Stage Rehab: Laying the Foundation

During the initial stages of specialised physiotherapy after surgery, the goal is to reduce your discomfort and re-introduce ankle mobility. This involves:

  • Pain management and swelling reduction: We address the immediate post-surgical challenges of pain and swelling by using the famous PRICE technique (protext, rest, ice, compression, and elevation). We also throw in therapeutic massage to manually pump the fluids and blood away from the surgical site to decrease swelling. It helps relax the ankle and can reduce pain. The goal of this stage of rehab is to create a conducive environment for healing.
  • Mobilisation exercises: We gently introduce controlled exercises which are generally non-sport specific. This helps maintain joint mobility, which is crucial at this stage for the surgical repair’s integrity. It also encourages movement and prevents stiffness.

Mid-Stage Rehab: Building Strength and Stability

This stage begins when you leave the hospital and your ankle is better such that it can bear weight and accept challenging postures. Here, we gradually increase your exercise intensity and may introduce sport-specific exercises.

  • Strength and flexibility training: We graduate you from range-of-motion and gentle exercises to slightly intense body weight-based exercises. These help start rebuilding strength and enhance flexibility. Each activity is carefully monitored to ensure they support the healing process, rather than impede it.
  • Proprioception and balance training: Restoring the athlete’s awareness of joint position and movement is crucial at this stage. That’s an essential element for injury prevention and performing with confidence. Exercises such as single-leg balance, jumping, standing on soft or uneven surfaces, etc. are incorporated into the physiotherapy program to help with balance.

Advanced Stage Rehab: Preparing for Return to Sport

The final stages of rehab are designed to make you arena-ready.

  • Sport-specific drills and conditioning: We stimulate your sports environment and introduce exercises that closely resemble your training routines. This can help you transition to the field with more confidence, both physical and mental. We make the exercises and simulations more and more challenging to prepare you for all possibilities.
  • Functional training and performance enhancement: Another focus during this stage is fine-tuning your overall athletic performance. To achieve that, we prescribe exercises that enhance power, agility, and endurance.

Each phase of the rehab protocol is crucial and builds upon the previous stages. The compounding effect of all these stages allows for the athlete’s successful return to sport.

The Athlete’s Role in Ensuring Rehab Success

A successful rehabilitation process is never the sole responsibility of the physiotherapist. Every injured athlete plays a pivotal role in their own recovery journey. Here’s how embracing this role can help empower you and enhance the effectiveness of the rehab program:

  • Adherence to the prescribed program: The success of rehab lies in your commitment to the prescribed exercises and regimen. Compliance helps keep the recovery process steady and effective while reducing the risk of setbacks.
  • Open communication and feedback: Providing honest and timely feedback to the physiotherapist for quick regime changes can ensure that your program is adjusted as needed and that you are progressing at just the right pace.
  • Maintaining a positive mindset: A proactive attitude is vital for rehab success. Your mental and emotional investment in your recovery influences your motivation, resilience, and overall progress.
  • Active participation in the recovery process: Participation goes beyond just following instructions. You should ask questions and seek clarity from us to understand the purpose behind each aspect of your physiotherapy rehab after ankle surgery.

You can make a massive contribution towards the effectiveness of your rehabilitation program. By engaging and showing up consistently, you can pave the way for a strong return to sports.

Your Next Steps

Your triumphant return to sport and recovery might feel lonely, but it’s a collaborative effort.

Your entire healthcare team, nutrition, mental state, and the support of your team – all work behind the scenes to make your comeback a reality. The clinic and therapist you choose to guide you on this journey can have a significant impact on your mindset and healing.

For those ready to start their path to recovery after ankle surgery, our clinics in Eltham, Battersea and Norbury are equipped with the expertise and support you need.

Want a physiotherapist who goes the extra mile like you do? Then reach out to us today to learn more about rehabilitation after ankle surgery. Together, we’ll work towards not just getting you back in the game but returning you stronger and more resilient than ever.