Ankle & Foot Stress Fractures: The Role of Physical Therapy

two feet with one shoe on

Recovery and Prevention: The Role of Physical Therapy for Foot and Ankle Stress Fractures


Are you dealing with stress fractures in your foot or ankle? You’re not alone! Stress fractures are a common injury that affects athletes—especially runners. Fortunately, physical therapy can be an effective way to treat this type of fracture and get you back on track. In this article, we’ll explain what to expect from a physical therapy plan for stress fractures, how long it can take to recover, and what measures you can take to prevent re-injury.

What To Expect At Physical Therapy

Physical therapy for stress fractures in the foot or ankle begins with an assessment from a physical therapist. The physical therapist will examine your posture, gait (the way you walk), range of motion, balance, and strength. This will give them insight into how your body is functioning. Following the assessment, they may suggest exercises to help reduce pain and improve mobility, or use modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation for pain relief.

What Types Of Exercises Might You Do?

The exercises you do in physical therapy to help with stress fractures will depend on your individual goals, but may include:

Range of motion exercises – These can help increase flexibility and mobility in the affected area.

Strengthening exercises – This type of exercise helps build muscle strength and stability around the fracture.

Endurance exercises – This type of exercise helps improve your overall fitness and cardiovascular health.

Balance exercises – These can help build muscle strength in the feet and ankles, improving coordination and balance.

Stretches – Stretching is important to assist with flexibility and reduce tension on the muscles surrounding the fracture.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

Recovery time for stress fractures in the foot or ankle varies from person to person. Generally, it can take up to 6-8 weeks of consistent physical therapy treatment before you can return to your normal activities. It can also take 3 months or more to increase your training after. It’s important to remember that consistent and regular physical therapy sessions are necessary in order for a full recovery.

How Physical Therapy Prevents Re-Injury

Physical therapy helps reduce the risk of re-injury after a stress fracture by strengthening and stretching the muscles around the area. This keeps your feet and ankles flexible, strong, and balanced to help prevent future injuries. Physical therapists can also provide advice on how to modify activities that may be causing extra strain or putting too much stress on the fracture.


Physical therapy is an important part of recovery for stress fractures in the foot or ankle. Physical therapists can help you manage pain, build strength, improve balance and flexibility, and reduce your risk of re-injury. With regular physical therapy sessions, recovery time can vary from person to person, but generally takes 6-8 weeks before you can return to your normal activities.