A foot or ankle procedure can be the first step in helping you overcome a foot condition so that you can get back to doing all the physical activities you love, but surgery alone won’t fix everything. Surgery is only part of the equation, and you’ll need to put in some work on your end in order to make the strongest recovery possible after your operation. In today’s blog, we explore some ways you can work to quickly get back on your feet following an operation on your feet.

Returning To Normal Physical Activity After Foot Surgery

We want to provide some general guidance for how you can safely and effectively make a strong recovery following your foot or ankle procedure, but the advice of your treating surgeon should always take precedence. They’ll be able to see your foot and your imaging results and will be able to provide you with individualized advice. You can ask them about anything on this list, but their specific advice should win out over the general guidance you’ll see below.

With that said, there’s no perfect playbook for helping you make the perfect recovery after foot surgery because every patient and every surgery is different. However, patients that pursue these strategies tend to make the strongest recovery, and it oftentimes happens in a shorter amount of time.

  1. Be Active Once Cleared – Once you’re cleared to stand, walk or move, make sure you pursue these activities. Movement will help to build strength in areas that may have been weakened by the trauma of surgery or the lack of activity if you’ve been non-weight bearing for an extended period. Movement also helps to improve your circulation, which will bring healthy blood to the site, aiding in tissue repair. Once you’ve been cleared by your surgeon for certain rehab activities, make sure you pursue them regularly.
  2. Do Your Therapy Exercises – The majority of rehab protocols after a foot or ankle procedure involve some sort of physical therapy. Like the above point, be sure you’re doing your physical therapy exercises as recommended. You may do some exercises in the surgery center or at an outpatient PT facility, but odds are you’ll also be given exercises to complete on your own from home. Don’t skip out on these exercises, because these are what will help you regain range of motion, strength, flexibility and overall function in your foot.
  3. Mind Your Diet – You don’t have to completely ditch carbohydrates while you’re recovering from foot surgery, but you do want to be mindful of what you’re putting in your body. Odds are you won’t be able to be as active in the days or weeks following your procedure, which means you probably won’t be burning as many calories. If you eat an unhealthy diet and it’s paired with limited activity, it can lead to weight gain, and guess which part of your body has to handle this stress? Not only can a healthy diet help you avoid weight gain after foot surgery, but it can also help your body get certain vitamins and nutrients that are essential to aid in tissue repair.
  4. Listen To Your Doctor – We made this clear in the introduction, but we’re going to say it again, please make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions and restrictions. If you bear more weight than advised or try to drive or return to work before you’ve been cleared, you’re only going to put extra strain on your foot, and that can lead to a setback or a failed surgery. If you believe you are ahead of schedule or are wondering if certain activities are within your capabilities at your current stage of rehab, reach out to your care team for advice. We’re always happy to provide answers when a patient has questions, and this can help to avoid a setback.
  5. Set Goals – Finally, talk with your surgeon and your rehabilitation team about some of the short- and long-term goals you have for yourself. Goal setting can help patients follow through on their rehab exercises and ensure that the care team understands what they need to do to help the patient reach these goals. We’ll want to make sure that your goals are realistic, but if you want to get back to biking without pain or playing competitive soccer, bring these goals up to your care team so that they can set you up on a path to help you reach your goals.

If you want to have your surgery performed by a team who will do everything in their power to help you make a full and speedy recovery after your foot or ankle surgery, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.

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