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There are few things I recall from wearing a cast 17 years ago when I broke a small bone in the Left foot. The thing that remained with me the most was how wearing a walking boot made my hips unlevel and my back hurt! OH the things I get to look forward to!
This time, I was unprepared but very interested to learn how wearing a cast for a prolonged time affected me in ways I was not expecting. Following are a few of those things.
Bruised Knee Caps
I often scoot around on my bum, forwards, backwards, or stand on my knees, or crawl to get around (and crawl up stairs). As a floor dweller, it’s often easier than standing up multiple times a day, and my crutches are often not near me (because I’ve put them against a wall and then crawled away from them). But now I’ve got tender, sore, bruised knee caps, making crawling difficult, even with my borrowed Lee Valley knee pads!
Walking on crutches is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard! The crutches are not supposed to come up to your armpits, but 3 fingers width below. Even so, the skin of the armpit area gets chafed if you do a lot of walking (I walked around 3 grocery stores the other day and that was enough to chafe my skin).
Lack of dorsiflexion in BOTH ankles, and hip extension in BOTH hips
When you walk on crutches, you aren’t really walking at all. You are covering ground, sometimes quickly! But you are essentially pivoting around the top of the crutch. So you are swinging on the crutches across the ground!
This means neither hip moves at all, and the foot that contacts the ground has a lot less movement than normal (and certainly no push off). This means I am getting almost NO (physical) benefit by going for a walk and am probably just pressing on the heel of my hands and (see above) chafing the armpits. The lack of movement in the ankles, knees and hips of both legs sucks.
The Lack of Load to Skin – UGH
This one is gross. But it’s one of the most surprising ones to me, even though in theory I already knew this. Seeing it was just not an experience I wanted to have. So the skin on the right foot is the same as always – I am barefoot all the time unless I need to go outside and then I wear (one) moccasin. There is ample callousing on the ball and heel of that foot, which is healthy and has a blood supply. It’s a thick, consistent covering which allows me to walk barefoot over various surfaces without sensitivity due to the skin responding and adapting to the loads and pressure of walking barefoot. It feels smooth to the touch, even though it is thick.
The LEFT foot on the other hand, the skin is pretty much dead and dry and sloughing off and you can see the callouses have separated from the soft skin underneath. The lack of loads to the skin on this foot (due to non-weight bearing for 7 weeks) has resulted in a foot that looks and feels disgusting. This to me is such a huge wake up call to the benefits to your SKIN when you walk barefoot. Now I am much more aware of why people’s feet look the way they do when they don’t walk barefoot (even in the house). Your skin can change people!
As you can also see from the photo, my toes are restricted from spreading by the cast and are losing their intrinsic strength and ability, which is going to affect the strength of the bottom of my foot when the cast is removed; skin, plantar fascia and muscles. There is a lot of work ahead, to get that foot back to where it was.
My Back Pain Returning
Due to the point above about crutch walking really being crutch swinging, and the fact that I can’t crutch-walk for 5 km or anything near it, I am missing the benefits that my body experienced from my walking practice. I tried to walk a minimum of 5km (3 miles) a day – which believe me, is really minimal. I am going to work up to a minimum of 8 km (5 miles) a day when I can again. You don’t realize how much good something is doing you until you are forced to stop doing it. I suddenly realized that my back felt tired and I could not sit for long periods without resting against the wall or even lying down. I’m spending way too much time just lying on the floor; your body breaks down fast! I don’t do any specific exercises to strengthen my back, I just walk a lot. Dammit, I miss walking!
Cast Fetishists is a Thing
I discovered this when I started sharing photos of life with a cast (including hashtags like broken ankle) on Instagram. I started getting a lot of new followers and when I checked their page (as I always do) I found 100s of photos of women wearing casts. Now I try to be open-minded, but there is something creepy about this – not only objectifying women, but women who are rendered weak and vulnerable by injury. Live and let live, but not with my pictures. BLOCK! Yes, I did not want to know this one either.
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