As I move through this broken ankle situation I see how important it is that I know how to self-treat and release the spasms that are shortening the insertion points on the muscle fibers and stressing the joint, in this case the movement of my ankle.
The accident was exactly two months ago and thanks to the excellent surgeon at UNC Medical, the bones have meshed together beautifully (thanks also to 12 screws and a long plate holding the bones together). I’ve been treating the muscles that would prevent me from pointing my foot (tibialis anterior, peroneals, extensor digitorum (and hallicus) longus, and the muscles that would prevent me from lifting the front of my foot up (gastrocnemius, soleus, flexor digitorum (and hallicus) longus (and brevis) – and a bunch more.
I found there is a lot of tension at the very front of my ankle, in the crease (so to speak) when I bring my foot up toward my knee. Even if you have never broken your ankle (thank heaven!) if you have pain in the front of your ankle and you can’t point your toes try this technique:
Run your thumb deeply along the outside of your shinbone, starting just below your knee. As you get to the middle of your shinbone you’ll find it to be painful and you may be able to feel the difference in the tone of the muscle. Stay there for a minute or so and then keep going toward your ankle. As you get close to your ankle move extra slow and feel for bumps (the size of a pebble or a pea). Hold the pressure steady on the bump and push a bit toward the top of your foot, kneading the bump to break it down.
Go all along the entire crease in your ankle, follow the tight tendon up to the muscle and then using your thumb (or the heel of your opposite foot), press on the muscle, pushing it toward your foot, as if you were trying to lengthen it (you actually are trying to lengthen it).
After you have worked on the muscle for a few minutes, while you are still pressing on the muscle, point your toes. That will stretch the muscle fibers.
As I’m doing this several times every day, I’ve finally gotten my foot to have exactly the same flexibility as my right foot — pretty good considering it’s only two months since a break that was so severe that my foot literally fell out of my ankle joint and lay on the floor!
Tomorrow I’m off to the YMCA to revise my membership (it went on hold when I had the accident) and I’m going to sit on the stationery bike and slowly pedal. Rehabilitation is important and I’ll be making a visit to a friend who is a PT here in Chapel Hill so I can find out what else I need to do to get my ankle back to 100% flexibility.
Moving right along…