Exercises For Compartment Syndrome : Different Types and Benefits

Exercises For Compartment Syndrome : Different Types and Benefits

If you have been diagnosed with compartment syndrome, you know how painful and limiting it can be. This condition is caused by increased pressure within the muscle compartments of the body and can lead to pain, swelling, and even disability. Thankfully, several exercises can help relieve the symptoms of compartment syndrome. In this blog post, we will discuss 10 exercises for compartment syndrome that can help improve your quality of life if you suffer from this condition.

What Is Compartment Syndrome?

What Is Compartment Syndrome?

Compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs when there is too much pressure in the tissues that surround a muscle group. This pressure can cause the muscles and nerves to become damaged.

There are two types of compartment syndrome: acute and chronic.  

Acute Compartment Syndrome

Acute compartment syndrome most often occurs after an injury, such as a fracture or a crush injury. It can also occur after surgery. The condition develops when the blood flow to the muscles is cut off by the pressure in the tissue surrounding the muscle group. This can lead to permanent damage to the muscles and nerves if not treated immediately.

Chronic Compartment Syndrome

Chronic compartment syndrome usually develops over time. It is often seen in people who do a lot of repetitive motions with their arms or legs, such as runners, cyclists, and weightlifters. The condition is also seen in people who have had an injury that did not heal properly. Chronic compartment syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms may come and go. They may also get worse over time.

Treating Compartment Syndrome

Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. If you think you have acute compartment syndrome, you should go to the nearest emergency room.

Chronic compartment syndrome can be treated with physical therapy, surgery, or a combination of both. Physical therapy can help to increase the range of motion and strength in the affected muscles. Surgery is usually only needed if physical therapy does not improve the symptoms.

Exercises For Compartment Syndrome

Several exercises can help to relieve the symptoms of compartment syndrome. These exercises should be done under the supervision of a physical therapist or another healthcare provider.

Heel Raises

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Slowly raise onto your toes and then lower back down. Do 2 sets of 10 reps. This exercise is a type of calf raise. It will help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your lower leg. Heel raises also help to improve your balance. Many people prefer to do this exercise while holding onto a wall or a chair for support.

Leg Lifts

Leg lifts are a great way to help relieve compartment syndrome. By lifting your leg, you are stretching the muscles and fascia in the affected area. This can help to reduce the pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that are being compressed. People may find that they need to do several sets of leg lifts throughout the day to help keep the pressure off of the nerves and blood vessels.

Calf Raises

Calf raises are a simple yet effective way to help relieve the pain and discomfort of compartment syndrome. By strengthening the muscles in your calves, you can help reduce the pressure on the affected compartment and improve blood flow to the area.

To do a calf raise:

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on a sturdy surface for support.
  2. Slowly raise your heels so that you’re standing on your toes.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering your heels back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times.

Heel Drops

Heel Drops

Heel drops are a  simple but effective exercise to help relieve the symptoms of compartment syndrome. The exercise involves dropping your heels off a step or ledge, letting your foot hang down, and then slowly lowering yourself back down.

To do heel drops:

  1. Stand on a step or ledge with your heels hanging off the edge.
  2. Drop your heels down below the level of the step or ledge.
  3. Let your foot hang down for a few seconds.
  4. Slowly lower yourself back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.

Activity Modification

One of the most important things you can do to help relieve symptoms of compartment syndrome is to avoid activities that make the pain worse. This may mean temporarily avoiding or modifying your workout routine. If you’re a runner, for example, you may need to take a few days off from running or switch to a different type of exercise, such as swimming.


Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling. Try it for 20-30 minutes at a time, several times a day.


Wearing an elastic compression bandage can also help reduce swelling. Be sure not to wrap it too tightly, as this could cause further problems.


Elevating the affected limb can also help reduce swelling.

Swelling Reduction Exercise

This is an isometric exercise that involves contracting the muscles without actually moving any body part. You can do this by pushing against a wall or door frame. Start with your arms at shoulder level and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lean into the wall, using only your legs to move, until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat 5 times.

Ankle Pumps

Ankle Pumps

Another great exercise to help relieve compartment syndrome is ankle pumps. This involves flexing and pointing your foot, which helps to improve blood flow and reduce swelling.

To do ankle pumps:

  1. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Flex your foot up towards your shin, hold for a few seconds, and then point your foot away from your shin.
  3. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times.
  4. Do 2-3 sets of ankle pumps per day.

These are just a few exercises that can help relieve the pain and discomfort of compartment syndrome. Be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine. Once you find an exercise that helps, stick

Why Do People Use Exercises For Compartment Syndrome?

There are many reasons why people use exercise as a means to relieve compartment syndrome. Some of these reasons include:

To help improve blood circulation

One main benefit of exercise is that it helps improve blood circulation. This is important for people with compartment syndrome because the condition is often caused by a lack of blood flow to the affected area.

Exercise can help increase the amount of blood that flows to the affected area, which can help reduce symptoms and improve healing.

To help reduce swelling

Another benefit of exercise is that it can help reduce swelling. When you exercise, your muscles contract and push fluid out of the affected area. This can help reduce the amount of swelling in the area and make it easier for you to move and function.

To help relieve pain

Exercise can also help relieve pain caused by compartment syndrome. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals that block pain signals from reaching the brain. This can help you feel less pain and make it easier to function.

To help stretch the muscles and fascia

An important part of treating compartment syndrome is stretching and lengthening the muscles and fascia. This can help improve the range of motion and reduce symptoms. There may be some discomfort when you first start stretching, but it should go away as the muscles and fascia become more flexible.

To help strengthen the muscles

Another benefit of exercise is that it can help strengthen the muscles. This is important because the muscles may be weak from being in a cast or splint. Strengthening the muscles can help improve function and reduce pain.


Carrying out the correct exercises for compartment syndrome is key to helping relieve the condition. Be sure to warm up before any physical activity and always consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting a new exercise regimen. If pain persists, speak with a medical professional as this may be a sign of a more serious problem.

Contact sports and other activities that put high levels of stress on the muscles and bones are often the root cause of compartment syndrome. 

Physical Therapy help patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Back pain, Shoulder pain, Knee pain, Neck pain, Elbow pain, Hip pain, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at MantraCare can help: Book a physiotherapy session.

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