Broken Ankle Recovery

Discussion in 'Global Surf Talk' started by surflady86, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. surflady86

    surflady86 New Member

    Jul 3, 2013
    Hi all, thought I would seek out advice from other surfers dealing with ankle issues. Four months ago I had a serious ankle break due to a rock climbing accident. I am just now able to walk normally and attempt surfing again. I am dealing with a lack of mobility in my right ankle that makes it difficult to plant my back foot when I go for steep waves. I end up on my toes when I push up, only when my knee straightens out can I plant my foot, which by then is too late. I have a few pins and a metal plate in my ankle that makes the joint stiff and until those get removed it is uncertain if full mobility will return. Wondering if anyone has any advice or techniques that might help me transition into gimp surfing. Goddamn this is frustrating.
  2. Dalarast

    Dalarast Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2013
    Besides basic ankle physical therapy exercises (google them) which will help get strength and range of motion I would recommend some balance exercises as well because I would imagine with the extra "hardware" in your ankle its going to feel a little different too. I was in the same boat back when I was a teenager; but due to the injury to my ankle and knee I went through a physical therapist to get my movement back.

    Best tool I used for balance was a indo board at the doctors office and then I made a DIY for home that I still use and now my kids use it for balance training (or playing depending on when you see them).

    Also be careful with the therapy if your doing it on your own as you don't want to re-injure any part of your ankle by going to fast! If you have a doc your going to he/she should be recommending something based on your activity level too... if not he/she sucks in their profession ;)

  3. nynj

    nynj Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
    That sucks... I had a tore all the ligaments in my ankle (not nearly as serious as your injury) 12 years ago, so I feel you pain. It is very hard to do anything when you're that stiff.
    Like Drast said Indo Board was super helpful. Also standing on that balance ball thing while lifting or doing squats.
    But the best thing for me was running in the sand. It really helped me get more stability. Walk at first if it's hard to run or it hurts too much.
    Other than that, just keep surfing as long as it's not painful. You'll loosen up and get back eventually. 4 months is nothing with a break that bad.

    Good luck
  4. Kahuna Kai

    Kahuna Kai Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    Good luck buddy. I have broken my right ankle a few times and sprained it numerous other times, it's arthritic now. My doc told me to do a static stretch which helped me regain flexibility in the achilles. Sounds like that is your main hold up right?

    Here's how it works, just stand on the stairs, weight all on the ball of your foot and just let your heel hang down. Stand there for a minute or whatever you can bear without causing too much pain. If you can stand there for 5 minutes or more, you will notice some strides in your flexibility. Good luck man, like NYNJ said, 4 months is nothing, be patient and persistent and good luck.
  5. Kahuna Kai

    Kahuna Kai Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    repeat 2-3 times a day, 5 minutes on each foot.
  6. BioWave56

    BioWave56 New Member

    Jul 3, 2013
    Hope you heal up soon. Shattered my Tibia/Fibula/Ankle a few years ago, had 21 screws and 2 plates installed, mine was my back foot too, so I know exactly how you feel. Best advice is to absolutely do your physical therapy until they tell you you are done. DO NOT try to do it yourself when you start feeling better, it's almost impossible to push yourself towards recovery the way a professional can, and that will be the best way to get your ROM back and break up all that scar tissue.

    Second, is to go to a Chiropractor, if you don't already. Hobbling around on one leg at this point probably has you COMPLETELY out of whack, I started having weird knee/hip pains during my recovery because of how much my body was compensating for the constant limp. Getting back into alignment is one of the best ways to get back at it again. They can also help to adjust your ankle so that your bones/muscles/nerves all begin communicating correctly again. Some also do massage work, which is really good at loosening things up. If you don't believe in Chiro's at least do some good full body stretches and core works outs (planks, balance ball etc) to recondition the muscles that are compensating.

    As for home work-outs:

    Kahuna Kai was spot on with the heel-drop excersize, just take it SLOW.

    Balance on one leg: Start on flat ground, stand on bad ankle and raise other foot 6" off ground, hold and then extend your foot 6" in front of you, hold, extend 6" behind you, hold. Repeat. After you are comfortable on flat ground, you can move to standing on a piece of foam, then a balance ball to progressively decrease the stability. DO BOTH LEGS, it's amazing how out of whack you feel on the other leg too. Do this 10 mins 2x-3x a day

    Use resistance bands to strengthen calf muscles: This is one of the best things you can do, this will help strengthen your calf muscle and the muscles it works with, doing this is going to mimic a front-side bottom turn where you're pushing on your back foot. It will also help to stretch your achilles.

    Go to the gym and strength train your legs: Hopefully you were lucky like me and you can do this at your PT center (I hate going to gyms), but strength training your legs is going to be the only way to get your muscles anywhere near their original size after the atrophy.

    Walk on sand: this is one of the best things to help break up scar tissue and increase your ROM

    The last thing to think about is to get a new leash that has REALLY GOOD padding, or modify your existing leash with some extra neoprene, you have no idea how scary/painful it is to have your board tomb-stoning and your leash cranking on your bad ankle, especially if your scars are tender. To this date my leash and COLD water are the only things that really let the hardware hinder me.

    For me it's been about 4 1/2 years and I'd say it's going to take you solid year to feel somewhat confident again and probably 2 years where you realistically regain your normal line of progression. But it's so worth it, after an injury like that, you will never take a surf session for granted again!!
  7. surflady86

    surflady86 New Member

    Jul 3, 2013
    Thanks for the recommendations! I will look into a chiro for sure. I have been in PT for the last three months, slow going but my therapist is hopeful that the discomfort and ROM will improve once the metal is taken out next month. You are spot-on about the leash issue. I have a calf leash that I have been using but it can get sketchy and often ends up wrapped around my ankle anyways. Fear of my ankle colliding with the board is a HUGE issue for me now, I don't have the confidence to really charge anymore. Anything risky and I sit it out. You all are right, it is going to take more time. If anything this accident has been a real practice of patience. Thanks again.
  8. Chincoteague surf school

    Chincoteague surf school New Member

    Jan 17, 2013
    broke my fibula 8 weeks ago. i feel you man. just surfed the other day first time. ive been doing toe up and heel ups in a pool as deep as i need to take the body weight off. the biggest thing for me was the double strap ankle brace. it really helped. you WILL get better. be blessed.
  9. Tuono

    Tuono Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Came up on this while thinking how nice it would have been to have surfed last month or two after that dead flat summer. Broke the inside of my ankle, medial malleous in an accident (car ran a stop sing and hit me on the bike)..I am almost at 6-week mark and everything feels pretty good.
    People say "don't push", but to them I say, "listen to your body, first and foremost".

    I was supposed to have been in air cast boot now (swapped fiber cast for air cast at like 2 week mark) but took it off about a week ago because it was starting to hurt my knee. I have no PCL (many years now) in the same knee, and dealing with the boot was toublesome. Some told me not to do it but it's really just there for protection. It is my back right foot, but I was driving as soon as swelling would let me and riding stationary bike. Already can see stretching back (ach) tendon will be the last ROM thing. Aside of that, my quads are probably stronger than before because now I am actually hitting the gym and have not as many distractions. Still on both crutches, but hope to drop one or two next week. Work my ankle just about all the time and contentiously stretch. I feel me being back on moto and bicycle day isn't that far off..but not sure about surfing. My ligaments should be okay for the most part as I was impacted with no twisting, but we will see. My soft deadline for water time is 12.1
    Fair to say, though I had surgery and all, my ankle injury isn't as bad as some. I'd say bellow average fixation.

    If anyone is wondering while laid out how will this ankle thing go, I'd say, go as your body will allow you. You will know. There may be some minor setbacks but it is important not to panic. Everyone messes up and puts their foot down at some point when the should not-- it will not break your ankle again. No sweat. Drive on the left, it's fine..unless you have no control. Drive on the right as soon as you can, it's great PT.
    I went to PT early, as I am still not weight bearing, as I wanted to get ahead. It wasn't useful. Get the band(s) and get to work yourself. Hit the gym. Do core. Leg extension.

    If someone else has any experience, I would like to hear it. Gonna be in the water soon.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  10. Gfootr

    Gfootr Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    +1 this!
  11. smitty517

    smitty517 Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2008
    My ankle is POS. Numerous breaks plus a benign tumor. Didn't surf for year. Prolly 4 months post surgery I started bodybuilding every chance I could. Don't know the physics but really helped it get stronger. Something about swim fins I guess. I still swim laps with the fins. For whatever reason this seems to solve my issues.
  12. SloFlo

    SloFlo Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2016
    Achilles tendon issue the past few weeks (hence being on the computer so much, lol)...I consulted with a physician whom has a history of working with U.S. Olympic Athletes, and after spending about 30 minutes on the phone, he suggested I start with low impact exercise in a pool, walking only. He explained the resistance is what I needed at this point, but nothing more. The deeper in the water you go, the more resistance there is. You must run it past your PT, first, though (sand might be too much at this point for you...). He also recommended a custom mixed vitamin IV treatment, as well as some new cutting edge sauna treatment. I have yet to make it into his place, but I will try to find the info and post it for you; maybe you can find a doctor in your area whom offers it.
  13. SloFlo

    SloFlo Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2016
    Your PT may be able to get your doctor to order it, as well as massage therapy (the latter of which is what I have been doing, and am the queen of, anyway...helping tremendously, it is). Go to a Myofascial Release Specialist (MTPT) only (the rest are all foo-foo-feel-good, not clinical, imo):

    FAR Infrared Saunas - will increase cellular growth and cause wounds to heal faster than traditional saunas. Will assist with blood circulation and metabolic functioning, while also cleansing the system of harmful toxins, and is best utilized with the IV treatment. Removes less water than traditional saunas, just more of the things you do not need right now, and it will help in many other ways, as well, especially pain.

    Hope that helps...
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  14. red dog

    red dog Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2015
  15. SloFlo

    SloFlo Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2016
  16. SloFlo

    SloFlo Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2016
    What I do have is a lot of seafood and fish, extra virgin olive oil, cardamom, green tea, Omega 3-6-9, but heavy [EDIT: low) on the 6, berries, walnuts (fairly Mediterranean Diet, my norm, and he approved), whole grains, chocolate, certain veggies (some contribute to swelling),...few other things like that (all of those things are anti-inflammatory and/or anti-oxidant agents), while avoiding other foods, especially processed and "white" foods. He advised me to reduce my salt intake, so as to help reduce painful swelling, which is no problem, because 'tis rare I use it. You have to try to avoid foods that cause the swelling, which is what causes the pain. And of course elevate and ice, rotating with heat...
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  17. SloFlo

    SloFlo Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2016
    I forgot...he also had me switch off of the Aleve and like, to Aspirin, because he stated that in some cases when swelling of the ankle does not cease after taking the anti-inflammatory, it could actually be causing the swelling, and he suspected such with me (because I was being patient with my rehab...). My father is a retired pharmacologist, and I asked him to affirm, which he did.

    Hope that helps you, too.
  18. waterbaby

    waterbaby Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    so true. Joints are the worst thing to injure. If you ever get past the pain an changing.
  19. Barry Cuda

    Barry Cuda Guest

    Aspirin is also an anti-inflammatory, albeit not as strong as Aleve (naproxen derivative). Aspirin also thins out your blood, allowing for easier flow to and away from the swelling.
    I worked in pharmaceuticals as well, for 35 years.
  20. SloFlo

    SloFlo Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2016
    I have three different OTC pain killers, and so I really do not recall; I just know he wanted me off the NSAIDs. If memory correctly serves me, he ok'd either aspirin or acetaminophen in my instance. I have an old RX of Flexeril, 10mg, and since I am only 4'10"/95lbs, I was breaking them in half on the line at first out of necessity, and that is how the discussion came up; he wanted me off of that, too, which was no problem, because I hate them, as well. My theory is that it is important to not mask the pain, if possible. I have always found that when I take something for pain, it fools me into believing that I can do more than I should do, and then re-injury occurs, slowing down the healing process...