A sprained ankle can be a pesky injury to deal with. An ankle sprain is when the ligaments that connect the bones of the leg to the foot are torn or overstretched, usually as a result of unintentionally twisting or turning one’s ankle (source). While the seriousness of a sprained ankle can range from mild to severe, typically all that is required to recover is to ice your ankle and take it easy, followed by a rehabilitation process.
While it is always recommended to exercise caution when dealing with an injury, you may be surprised to hear that riding an e-Bike is one of the more accessible options to use during the rehabilitative process of recovery.
The easily customizable nature of e-Bikes enables riders with a huge range of physical ailments and injuries to use this form of exercise. The physical and mental benefits of riding an e-bike, as well as its ability to gradually help to recover one’s ankle injury, makes it one of the leading forms of exercise that are prescribed as a rehabilitation method.
Read also: Can I ride an electric bicycle with knee problems or arthritis? And, Can I ride an electric bicycle with sciatica?
Be active – but also know when to rest
According to WebMD (source), the majority of the time a sprained ankle will heal on its own. However, if you are dealing with a sprained ankle, first and foremost it is important to consult your healthcare practitioner before doing any exercise.
While the well-known RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation – source) is certainly important when healing your sprain, it is equally as important to start moving again once possible. Activity, as opposed to inactivity, is almost always recommended when one is recovering from an injury.
This is because inactivity can result in a decreased range of motion, which has the potential of exacerbating rather than healing your injury. The movement will help to reduce and prevent your ankle, and the surrounding joints and ligaments, to become stiff or weak.
When you are able to put weight on your ankle and leg safely (ie. according to your doctor’s instructions), then you can start planning how to get back in the game of physical activity.
E-bike riding is a low-impact form of exercise that will both help with your range of motion as well as being a non-weight-bearing activity. This means that your ankle will both be getting the exercise it needs without taking on the brunt of the pressure since your entire body will be working while riding and thus evenly dispersing the physical effort.
The adjustable nature of e-Bikes, which allows for varying levels of pedal-assist, makes it an even more ideal option than traditional cycling. For example, increased pedal-assist means that the electric power will be higher so that even though human power is still needed to pedal, the effort you have to put into it will be much lower.
In turn, this means less pressure on your joints, particularly your ankle, while you ride. It will also ensure that you don’t overdo it with the exercise, as you don’t want to risk further injury to your ankle. When starting off with rehabilitative exercises, as well, you want to ensure that you are not riding at a high resistance: be sure to take it easy and slow, and start off with the lowest gear resistance.
The other great thing about riding an e-bike is that even if you start to feel tired or like you’re overdoing it, you can rely on the e-bike’s pedal-assist setting to ensure you get home without having to exert much effort.
There are also multiple frame options for e-bikes, such as a step-through frame (Wikipedia link), which is ideal for riders who are worried about risking further injury when mounting or dismounting their bike.
E-bike riding will help build strength
E-bike riding allows riders to get their exercise in without putting unnecessary pressure or strain on the body. Even though your legs are getting the most workout when cycling, there isn’t a lot of stress being put on your feet, especially if you take advantage of the pedal-assist feature.
Easy riding an e-bike means that you can get physical activity in, get the endorphins rushing, without hurting your ankle further (and in fact, allowing it a chance to recover faster). This is because gentle movement will prevent and decrease the possible buildup of scar tissue within your joints, tendons, and muscles.
Read also: Does riding an e-bike help train strength and endurance? And, Are electric bikes good for cardio exercise?
Building up from low-resistance activity to eventually introducing resistance into your regimen again is recommended to rebuilding your ankle’s strength.
Luckily, you can use your e-bike to accomplish this – as mentioned earlier, the pedal-assist and resistance features are highly customizable, allowing for an easily adjustable ride that can gradually increase in intensity as you continue to become more comfortable in your routine.
Through engaging your muscles to help you steer, cycling also helps to improve balance (source), which is essential in your ankle’s recovery, as our ankles’ main function is to allow us to walk and be mobile. E-bike riding is also a great form of cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise, which is beneficial for your heart, lungs, muscles, circulation, and metabolism.
Aside from providing great cardio exercise, riding an e-bike can also help improve muscle strength, especially when resistance training starts to gradually become incorporated. Exercising even when dealing with a sprained ankle will not only allow your injury to heal more quickly but strengthening your body, muscles, tendons and ligaments will also reduce the risk of reinjury (source).
All of these reasons contribute to e-bikes being a great tool and mode of exercise on its own, and particularly one that is accessible for those who are dealing with an injury to get back into a physical routine without the fear of overdoing it.
Lean on e-bike riding for physical (and mental) support
E-Bike riders have noted that they have ridden while enduring a sprained ankle and, while they suggest avoiding hills and intense bike sprints, that ultimately using their e-Bike resulted in less pain than walking did.
Since walking, especially on pavement, can be jarring to the joints when dealing with a foot injury, e-Bikes can sometimes be the more accessible option when it comes to introducing physical activity into your recovery routine.
This is because, since your foot is moving in a consistent cyclical motion as well as not taking on the brunt of your weight, your e-Bike will actually provide more stability than walking will. There is also less chance of twisting or straining your ankle even further while riding since it is fairly locked into place when pedaling.
Injuries that affect a person’s mobility often lead to feelings of helplessness, and can even lead to feelings of depression. However, when even walking can be a struggle for those with a sprained ankle, it can be tricky to navigate how to incorporate an appropriate exercise into one’s life, especially when so many limitations are in place.
Thus, e-bike riding easy accessibility, as well as its well-known ability to provide exercise to those dealing with injuries, can act as a resource that will not only help to improve your physical health but your mental health, too.
A few words in conclusion
When dealing with a sprained ankle, one has to take certain precautions. There is a fine line between staying active and pushing oneself too hard, a balance that has to be carefully observed when recovering from an injury.
Thankfully, e-bikes make this balance that much easier to maneuver, since its adjustable electric assistance allows riders to rely on this support while simultaneously reaping the benefits of physical activity.
The ability to alter the intensity of your workout is much wider of a range on an e-bike than that of a traditional bicycle, meaning that those with varying ranges of injury severity can be accommodated and customize their workout accordingly.
It also means that you will be able to ensure that your exercise regimen is safe, accessible, and beneficial for your recovery process!
Read also: Guidance for riding an electric bicycle with certain health conditions. And, Most common e-bike riding pains, how to prevent and cure.