For anyone with a regular fitness routine, suffering an ankle injury can represent a major bump in the road. There are worse injuries out there, but not being able to put the slightest bit of weight on one of your legs takes a lot of basic exercises out of the equation, from jogging to most yoga poses. For those truly dedicated to becoming as fit as they can be though, it’s important to persevere anyway – not by challenging the injured ankle, but by finding ways to stay fit while it recovers.
To that end, we’ve crafted a list of five exercises that you can still do with a hurt ankle.
Swimming is a great cardio exercise that you can do even with leg injuries. The smooth, calming feeling of the water might actually have a soothing effect on the ankle, and you can still get your exercise in due to there being plenty of different swimming strokes and techniques that don’t require too much use of this part of your legs. You need to take the proper precautions of course – no heavy kicking strokes, and no jumping into the pool to start with. But with those precautions, swimming is a great way to keep up your cardio endurance and upper body strength. Plus, when your ankle is further along in its recovery, you can even start strengthening it a bit via the mild resistance of the water.
2. Isometric Exercises
This type of exercise is something many might not have thought of. But it was actually suggested in a piece about exercises for gamers to consider if they want to stay fit while playing their games, and it can be applied similarly to injured athletes. For those who aren’t familiar, isometric exercises are exceedingly simple: All you need to do is flex the muscle you want to work out, tense and hold it for 20 to 30 seconds, and then release. No one’s saying this alone is going to turn you into a bodybuilder, but it does have an effect, and can be perfect for those restless moments when you’re seated to be off your ankle. For that matter, you might even take the aforementioned article’s advice and play some games while you’re at it – exercise should never be boring!
3. Push-Ups & Sit-Ups
It can be easy to overlook push-ups and sit-ups simply because they’re so common. But the truth is these go-to, basic workouts can actually be among the best for a person dealing with a sprained ankle. If the injury is extremely sensitive, push-ups could be somewhat challenging – though doing them on one foot is an option that could even improve your balance and core strength. As for sit-ups, you should have no problems trying these or other ab exercises that involve no impact whatsoever for your feet.
4. Leg Curls
This one will require the help of some machinery if you’re to do it properly. But if you’re dedicated to your fitness routine, you might have one of the required machines for this one already, or at least access to a gym that has them. Leg curls are fairly standard “leg day” exercises that can help to build up the calf and hamstring muscles, and shouldn’t require anything of the ankle, save perhaps a small amount of tension. Leg extensions, meanwhile, are similarly beneficial for the quad muscles, if you want to focus on getting a fairly full lower body workout while you’re off your feet.
We mentioned above that yoga could actually be problematic with a hurt ankle, and this can definitely be the case. For instance, you don’t exactly want to be doing a downward-facing dog pose with this sort of injury. At the same time though, there are plenty of poses that can do wonders for your body without affecting the angle. Particularly if you have trouble getting to a pool or a gym with a bad ankle, yoga can become a terrific daily, in-home routine until you’re all healed up.