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Exercises After Bunion Surgery

Bunion surgery is performed to treat the deformed bones of the big toe and foot. For recovery after surgery, complete rest for first two weeks is advised while exercises for the later weeks are recommended by the doctor. This article discusses some of the exercises that can be performed after bunion surgery in order to prevent stiffening of the big-toe joint.
Pragya T
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
After bunion surgery, the big-toe joint becomes very stiff. This can be prevented by regularly performing the range-of-motion and foot stretching exercises after the surgery. These exercise routines will help you in fast recovery and prevent stiffening of the big-toe joint and painful adhesion, which is scarring. For the 1st and 2nd week after the surgery, no exercises are required as only rest and elevation are to be observed by the patient. Following are the exercises you need to follow after the first two weeks of surgery.
3rd to 6th Week Routine
Start with a mild assisted range-of-motion exercise. The steps are:
  • Grab the big toe and hold the fingers close to the big-toe joint. Make sure you are not holding the interphalangeal joint, which is the joint in the middle of the big toe, closest to the toenail.
  • Now, gently flex this toe upwards till you feel resistance and mild discomfort. Hold this for a count of 10 seconds approximately. Repeat this 3 times.
  • In a similar manner, perform the exercise by flexing the toe downwards.
This exercise routine should be performed 3 times a day in the 3rd and 4th week.
For the 5th and 6th week routine, just follow the aforementioned exercise routine. However, for these two weeks, instead of performing the exercises 3 times a day, switch to performing it 6 times a day. Keep increasing vigor and force as much as you can tolerate while exercising .
7th Week Routine
During the 7th week, start gravity-assisted and weight-bearing workout routines. The steps are:
  • Stand and keep your big toe on the ground, and push your body weight to force flexion on the toe.
  • Hold the posture for a count of 10 seconds, or less if you can't tolerate the pain for 10 seconds.
Other exercises like walking uphill and climbing up the steps is a great way to increase the flexibility in the big-toe joint. If you can tolerate the pain, you can follow the exercise routine mentioned below:
Distraction and Manipulation Workout
The steps are:
  • Grab the forefoot with one hand behind the big-toe joint with the thumb placed on the top of the foot, and with the other hand, grab the big toe at the base near the big-toe joint.
  • Flex the big toe in an outward direction, and then stabilize the forefoot with the thumb of the first hand and push the big toe upward, without bending the toe.
  • Hold this posture for a count of 10 seconds and repeat the exercise 3 times.
  • Now, in a similar manner push the toe downwards while keeping the toe straight. Hold it for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.
This exercise needs to be performed by the patient 6 times a day along with the aforementioned range-of-motion exercises. Walking or running exercise can be performed; however, do not exert yourself while doing this.
Important Tips for Foot Care
The following tips will help maintain good foot health:
  • Always wear proper fitting shoes, especially comfortable shoes. The key to buying good shoes is to shop for shoes in the evening because the feet swell a bit in the latter part of the day. Buy shoes in which the ball of your foot fits properly into the widest part of the shoes.
  • Never ignore pain in the feet, and if the pain persists, contact a doctor.
  • Wash your feet twice a day and dry them completely.
  • If you are diabetic, then visit a foot doctor once a year for a checkup.
  • Trim your toenails straight across, but make sure they are not very short.
The aforementioned exercises will serve as physical therapy after the operation. Therefore, perform them to maintain the flexibility of your toe joint after the surgery. Also, keep in mind the aforementioned tips to maintain good health of your feet.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. Always consult a physician before starting any physical fitness program in order to reduce the risk of injury.