Thursday, January 16, 2014

After the Boot

I fractured my fifth metatarsal of my right foot about 6 1/2 weeks ago.  I wore an orthopedic boot for nearly six weeks, and now I am back in two shoes.

I thought a lot about what I would do for six weeks in the boot.  And I feel like I was successful -- I stayed active within my limits, remained fit, and did not gain weight.  In fact, I dropped a couple of pounds.

For some reason, I thought the boot would come off, my fracture would be magically healed, and after a couple days of walking, I would be back to running.  Such is not the case. 
My foot in all its x-rayed glory.  And proof that a car window can indeed serve as an x-ray light box.

Unfortunately, the fracture hasn't fully healed.  It's definitely better, but the two pieces of my fifth metatarsal bone have not completely fused.  My orthopedist has told me that there is no running permitted for the next four weeks, at which point we will perform another x-ray to evaluate.  In response to my shock, he responded that running prematurely could lead to nonunion of the fracture, which would then require surgery.

I hadn't truly thought out the consequences of my foot being immobilized in a boot for six weeks either.  My calf muscle and the muscles at the ball of my foot are all tight from not being used, and in fact there's probably some muscle atrophy as well.  I have been walking this week with quite an interesting limp.

This is what happens when one leg is immobilized in an orthopedic boot for six weeks.  The muscle atrophy on the right is pretty apparent.

With all my difficulty walking, it is ironic that the only place where I have felt like a normal person is on a spin bike or in a pool, because the mechanics of stationary cycling and swimming are not much affected by the condition of my foot.

I had a physical therapy session yesterday, where a few things were pointed out to me.  My hip strength is off, and in fact my right hip is weaker than the left.  And, since the muscles at the bottom of my foot are tight and atrophied, I am taking a much smaller step with the left foot than with the right.

I have some exercises from physical therapy, and with a bit of stretching and attention to my gait, particularly making sure to take a larger step forward with my left foot, I am feeling a bit better today.  In fact, on my lunch break, I went for a thirty minute walk.  In my athletic life prior to this fracture, I would roll my eyes at even considering that to be a workout.  The toes of my right foot ached with each step, but I know I need to build and stretch those muscles so I kept going.

This weekend, I look forward to my first outdoor bike ride since my fracture.  And I look forward to developing stronger hip flexors, and walking like a normal person.
 
I thought I would be recovered by now, but I'm not quite there.  In due time, I will be.

3 comments:

Unknown said...

Slow and steady wins the race, don't push it.

Nisha Pandey said...

Don't push your journy,keep walking
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Ted said...

Best of luck to you but DON'T rush it. I would hate to see you start back running too soon and re-fracture it. You'll get there!