wikiHow to Exercise After a Leg Injury

Six Methods:Consult Your DoctorIncrease CirculationIncrease Range of MotionImprove BalanceStrengthen MusclesBegin Low-Impact Exercise

The leg is made up of muscles, bones, blood vessels and connective tissues that help you achieve motion. The leg can be injured by exercise, falls or other accidents, which can affect the foot, ankle, knees or hips. Common injuries include muscle tears, sprains and strains, as well as bone fractures and dislocations. Some leg injuries require surgery to repair them, while others may heal on their own. Depending on the leg injury sustained, healing time can vary from a few days to several months. Exercising after a leg injury can improve the leg's flexibility, strength and motion, but you must begin slowly so you don't aggravate the injury. It also is important to consult your doctor before attempting any exercise after an injury. Use these tips to exercise after a leg injury.

Method 1
Consult Your Doctor

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    Get your doctor's permission to exercise. Before attempting any exercise after a leg injury, consult your doctor. The healing time will depend on the type of leg injury you sustained, and some injuries take longer than others to heal. If you begin exercising too soon after an injury, you may cause additional damage to your leg and increase the healing time required.

Method 2
Increase Circulation

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    Increase circulation to your legs after a leg injury. Simple exercises with small movements can increase circulation and prevent blood clots, especially right after surgery. These exercises can be done on your back while lying in bed.
    • Rotate your ankle or move your foot up and down to increase circulation.
    • Contract your buttocks and/or thigh muscles for a few seconds and then release the contraction. This will promote blood flow to those areas.
    • Bend your knees to your chest slowly.
    • Raise your leg a few inches above the bed or floor. Keep it straight and move slowly to prevent further injury.

Method 3
Increase Range of Motion

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    Increase your range of motion after a leg injury. Most physical therapy programs for leg injuries focus first on flexibility. Gentle stretching is the most effective way to increase range of motion.
    • Increase ankle flexibility by moving your ankle toward you and away from you.
    • Write the alphabet on the floor with your foot, which incorporates full motion in the foot and ankle.
    • Lean forward and slowly reach your fingertips to your toes. If you can't reach your toes, just stretch as far as comfortable. Flexibility and range of motion will improve with continued stretching.

Method 4
Improve Balance

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    Do exercises to improve your balance. Balance training improves posture, athletic skill and coordination, which results in greater stability and fewer injuries as you age.
    • Balance on 1 foot (0.3 m). When you can bear weight on your legs, try balancing on 1 foot (0.3 m). Stand on the injured leg as long as possible, and try to increase the time daily.
    • Place 1 foot (0.3 m) in front of the other in a heel to toe pattern, as if walking a balance beam or imaginary tight rope.

Method 5
Strengthen Muscles

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    Strengthen your muscles after a leg injury. When you are strong enough to stand independently and put weight on your leg, try some exercises to increase muscle strength. When first attempting standing exercises after a leg injury, hold onto a sturdy object or surface like a wall or piece of furniture for extra support.
    • Do several repetitions of knees raises, in which you lift your knee toward your chest no higher than waist level.
    • Strengthen your hips and legs. With the foot, knee and hip pointing forward and your knee straight, lift your leg to the side and slowly lower your foot back to the floor.
    • Do toe raises. Roll onto the balls of your feet so you are standing on your tiptoes. Hold the pose for a few seconds and return your heels to the ground.
    • Sit with your back against a wall and slide down the wall so your thighs are at a 45 degree angle. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
    • Do mini squats. With your feet shoulder width apart, slowly bend between 60 and 90 degrees at the knees and then return to a standing position.
    • Use weights to build muscle strength. Try simple squats and lunges while holding weights to build muscle strength in your legs. Start with light weights and gradually increase the weight as you become stronger.
    • Use a resistance band to strengthen your injured leg. Resistance bands are lightweight and come in several resistance levels. Exercises with resistance bands can help you target specific muscles, such as the thighs, calves or buttocks. For example, you can loop a resistance band around your ankles and then lift 1 leg to the side and lower it back to the floor. The extra resistance in the band helps to strengthen your ankles and lower legs. Ask your doctor about resistance band exercises appropriate for your leg injury.

Method 6
Begin Low-Impact Exercise

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    Resume low-impact exercise with a doctor's permission. Whatever type of exercise you choose, it is important to start off slowly and gradually work back up to your pre-injury activity level.
    • Choose walking an effective low-impact exercise. Because walking does not put pressure on your legs like jogging or other aerobic exercises, it often is recommended as a low impact exercise alternative after a leg injury. Begin walking slowly and gently, and gradually pick up the walking pace. Add distance to your walking exercise as your healing permits.
    • Select swimming as a low-impact exercise following a leg injury. Swimming and water aerobics are gentle exercises that strengthen the entire body.
    • Opt for stationary biking, often called exercycling. Biking helps strengthen muscles and improve hip mobility. As you become stronger and can pedal for at least 15 minutes, gradually increase the tension on the stationary bike.
    • Resume jogging only if you can walk 2 miles (3.2 km) without pain. Rather than jogging long stretches, try incremental walking and jogging. Using an incremental walking and jogging technique, you walk briskly for several minutes, jog slowly for several minutes and then go back to walking. Continue the incremental walking and jogging to slowly build your strength, endurance and fitness level after a leg injury.


  • Pay attention to leg pain following an injury. If you feel pain at any time while exercising, slow down. If the pain continues, stop exercising immediately. Consult your doctor if the pain is persistent and/or severe.
  • Consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine following a leg injury. Discuss the type of exercise you will be doing and how often. Your doctor should be able to recommend several exercises to strengthen your legs based on your specific injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Resistance band
  • Weights
  • Stationary bike

Article Info

Categories: Leg Strengthening Exercises