More exercise you can do whilst in a cast….The Gym!

September 16th, 2010

I waited until I’d had my stitches out & my cast changed from the original one, to a lighter weight, resin / fibre cast, before starting back at the gym. Yesterday was my 1st hospital appointment & they took off the original post op cast & I finally got to see my scar, which is only about 2 or 3 inches long & very neat; I was impressed. My surgeon re-cast my lower leg, with the foot in a more natural position; I’d say it’s at 4 O’Clock if my knee is pointing to 12 O’Clock (if that makes sense!). It didn’t feel uncomfortable being re-adjusted up into this position; my old cast had broken down a fair bit & my foot already had quite a lot more movement than I would think was recommended at this stage, so I was glad to have the new protection on to prevent any more over-use. I am a very active person & always prone to doing more than is allowed! I think if I was in a boot, I’d be risking my new achilles! Also, driving home was easier with the more natural position & to celebrate, I swam again in the afternoon. My French surgeon looked rather surprised when I told her I’d been swimming already, several times, but didn’t tell me this was a bad thing, which I took as a good sign to carry on.

So, with my protective latex cast cover, I’ve swum most days & can now do breaststroke using both legs equally & front & back crawl & i’m swimming for around half an hour each time. I then continue, time permitting, with aqua exercise moves from my days as an aqua aerobics teacher….I can highly recommend ”Fantastic Water Workouts” by MaryBeth Pappas Gaines which has been my bible for the last 15 years….you can still buy this book on Amazon & there are dozens of brilliant floating exercises you can use, even with the leg in a cast.

So; today I ventured back into the gym: on my crutches & with my one training shoe on the right foot. I got a few funny looks & had to give my ‘Je me suis cassé le tendon d’Achille’ explanation a couple of times, but mostly I was left in peace. I didn’t try the stationary bike, although I will try it tomorrow…..but I managed to do plenty of upper body work, with free weights & weight machines, stomach & core work & also legs (hamstring curls, with most of the emphasis on the good leg), inner & outer thigh squeezes & quadricep leg extensions & then a good stretch out afterwards, obviously being careful to moderate any stretches which could have pulled on the AT.

I felt hugely encouraged after this session, which only lasted about half an hour, but left me feeling invigorated. I did have to have a lie down on the sofa this afternoon! I read Tom’s blog on exercise just before writing this & just wanted other sufferers to realise that life doesn’t have to be on hold while you are recovering: you can keep the rest of your body strong & gradually move onto cardio, once you can ride a bike as well.

If you have never used a gym before & the whole idea intimidates you, then get in a pool instead….swimming feels wonderful & I never want to get out as once back on land, I’m heavy & cumbersome on my crutches again. But not for much longer! As my cast is going to be on for another month (my surgeon looked blank when I suggested ‘une botte’ & just asked me to bring training shoes & heel inserts with me in a month’s time for my next visit: she gave me a prescription for the heel inserts from the pharmacy), I decided to buy the iWalk Free Hands Free Crutch which was ordered from the UK yesterday. My crutches are my biggest woe; they hurt my hands, my arms are bruised & they are so tempting to ignore & hobble instead, short distances indoors, which I’ve expressly been told by the surgeon, NOT to do. Hopefully when my husband returns from the UK to France tomorrow, he’ll have the new ‘peg leg’ with him; I’m VERY excited about this! Watch this space for an update once I’m using it!If it weren’t for this site, I wouldn’t even know of it’s existence.

Good luck to all you fellow sufferers…I hope many of you will be inspired to use exercise to save you from going mad in a cast, which I know I would be, if I couldn’t do it. If you cannot get to a pool, then buy a set of free weights, or use bags of sand & use them at home & do stomach work on a floor mat; anything, rather than sitting around feeling like your life’s over!

15 Responses to “More exercise you can do whilst in a cast….The Gym!”

  1. ric on September 16, 2010 5:28 pm

    Good lucky with your recovery. Although I’ve never had the misfortune to suffer such an injury I hear it’s excruciating. Have you thought about claiming compensation if your injury wasn’t your fault?

  2. emmagiselle on September 16, 2010 7:55 pm

    ‘ric’ if you’d actually read my blog, before offering your fake commiserations, you’d know I was in France, not the UK….over here they don’t have the claim culture of the UK & an accident is just that: an accident. Nobody’s ‘fault’ & therefore, nothing to claim on. And perhaps you’d not have bothered putting your sales spiel on my page in the 1st place……

  3. Gerryr on September 16, 2010 10:20 pm

    In case you haven’t already figured it out, you delete posts like that if you want or classify them as “spam.” And good for you for letting him/her have it. I though pretty much the same thing when I saw the post.

  4. Gerryr on September 16, 2010 10:21 pm

    Wait, why can’t I edit my own post here? What I meant to say was you “can” delete posts like that.

  5. debi on September 17, 2010 3:45 am

    Hi Emmagiselle

    I’m almost a month post rupture recovering the non surgical route and feeling good. I hit the gym one day post injury as I can’t stand the thought of sitting around and having my body become weak and out of shape. I’ve hit the stationary bike (even if its not allowed) two weeks post injury and it feels great. My good leg works harder but I get my heart rate up and break a sweat. I’ve also found pilates as a great workout. It works the core and legs to keep them strong and defind. has great pilates classes online for only 10 dollars a month. Check it out if you are into that (you can sign up and cancel at any time).

    Thanks for all your advice. I’m looking in to getting a cast liner and hitting up my community pool soon :)

  6. normofthenorth on September 17, 2010 4:33 am

    Debi, I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing. It sounds good — but it deserves a blog of its own, no?

    Did you stick with your original Doc and get him(?) to adopt a faster protocol? Did you get in touch with my Doc?

    EG, I remember very clearly how badly you took it when I “introduced” myself to you on this blog with full bluntness (and techy-talk) blazing. So I assumed you were the cordial, soft-spoken type, who easily take offense at (my often) excessive bluntness. But NOOOO! I don’t know Ric, but I think it’s possible his question was for-real and well-intentioned — and now he’s probably running for cover from YOUR bluntness! ;-)

    Meanwhile, the exercise regime — in and out of the water — continues to sound great! I think the exercise bike will be fine, too. I’d start (and maybe stay) without the toe clip, with the pedal almost under your left heel, so it’s not a test for your AT. You don’t want to tempt your calf to even THINK about tugging on it yet, at 2 weeks post-op.

    FWIW, I really don’t understand people in casts who are glad they’re not in a boot, because they’d hurt themselves. If you’re smart enough now to know that you’d be at great risk whenever you took the boot off, you’d still be that smart if you had a boot, no? (I take lots of chances on skis, on a bike, etc. — but I was always appropriately nervous whenever the boot came off!)

    And while you were IN the boot, you’d be exactly as safe as you are now in the cast. And you’d also have the opportunity to wiggle your toes in the air and to get some gentle massage and manipulation from a PT, starting now.

    If it helps keep you happy and “sane” to think that you’re lucky to be in a cast, I wasn’t put on Earth to convince you otherwise, but I really don’t get it. . .

    About the crutches: Most of them are “designed” to dig into our hands and wrists and upper arms and sides — but they can be padded, and they can also have their sharp edges rounded down (at least the wooden ones). I took a knife and a file and some sandpaper to mine, then I wrapped and taped foam (like camping pad stuff) around the hand-hold and the nearby vertical parts, and over the top pads. When I was through, they were pretty friendly (if homely) pieces of exercise equipment, and I was able to crutch-walk at very high speed for reasonable distances, as long as the under-crutch traction was good. (I was NWB in a Canadian Winter, so a few moments were touch and go for traction.)

    Don’t Stop!

  7. debi on September 17, 2010 4:39 pm

    Norm, do you sit on this website 24 hours a day responding to peoples blogs? I’ve decided not to start a blog for that very reason. I don’t need someone who I’ve never met to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. I’m a nurse and the first thing I tell my patients is to avoid the internet and get the facts from talking to medical professionals and getting second and (third, forth) opinions. I don’t like how blunt you are and how you tell people the protocol they are following is bad. You have no right to scare people that way. At one point you had me so worried I was never going to recover from this. I stuck with my doctor and we are working together to meet a protocol we are both happy with. I did not contact your doctor but did get a second opinion from another doctor.

  8. emmagiselle on September 17, 2010 5:26 pm

    Debi….glad to hear of someone else as keen on exercise as I am! I also tried the stationary bike today for the 1st time after reading your comments earlier & it was fine…also using my good leg more than my injured one, but the cast leg didn’t seem to mind the work in any case. So, now I feel like I can do a full gym workout, inc cardio section, which is fab. Thanks for the Pilates link: I’ll check it out.

  9. emmagiselle on September 17, 2010 6:39 pm

    Norm…I’ve been wondering the same thing as Debi… seem to have a very forthright opinion on everything anyone else posts on here. Maybe you don’t have a job, but you must spend an inordinate amount of time forcing your very long winded opinions down all of our throats!

    Telling Debi to contact YOUR Doctor; I’m sure he must love you! Does he spend his days fending off Normofthenorth’s referrals ?

    I am comfortable with my cast; for me, I know if I had a boot, I would do FAR more than I should…my surgeon, who I am sure is more qualified than you are & also knows a whole lot more than I do, told me the cast for another month was the way to go; I am happy to accept that. I was also happy to accept the surgical route, rather than the non-surgical route…..again, I’m sure my surgeon made a well informed decision on this, based on my rupture & her considerable expertise. If the non-surgical route works for you; brilliant! You just don’t need to worry yourself trying to convince the rest of the ATR patients on here, that they would have been better off following your surgeon’s path.

    My toes are free of my cast; I can use them as normal; just because you ‘don’t get it’, do you know what ? I don’t care! Do you have shares in a company selling these boots or something! You are evangelical about your promotion of them.

    As for the comment on my blog from ‘Ric’ ; when I clicked on his name it led me to a link to an insurance site in the UK: I checked this before I replied to him. It was a sales spiel & his commiserations were worth nothing to me; they were certainly not ‘real & well intentioned’

  10. normofthenorth on September 19, 2010 5:58 am

    Sorry to offend both of you, really. The vast majority of ATR patients recover pretty well no matter which “cure” or what protocol they get, according to the evidence. So there’s no basis for scaring people, except about “minority” outcomes. After my first ATR, I recovered fine from surgery and a super-slow protocol (both of which I think are now contra-indicated by the best evidence), as you can see all over my blog.

    Yes, I obviously spend Way Too Much Time here, I can agree on that!

    My preference is for Evidence Based Medicine, which is still a struggling and revolutionary idea in medical practice, and For Sure in ATR treatment. (Near-absolute faith in each person’s doctor is not a new idea, or a struggling idea.)

    Debi, working together with your doc to take control and exchange info is great. It’s also one of the stated goals of this web-site, and one of my main dreams, too. My Doc doesn’t need any more business, and — EG — he hasn’t gotten much through my recommendations, either. One blogger here decided to follow the UWO protocol, without surgery, and his Doc asked him to get him in touch with my Doc to answer some questions. I forwarded the contact info and I think contact was made. That’s the only contact I know about. Too blunt, or pushy or opinionated?

    Any patient has the right to get surgery or not, or follow any protocol they want (if they can get their Doc to agree). Debi, the idea that my comments on your non-surgical rehab would make you think you were “never going to recover from this” stuns me. You were concerned that you’d skipped the surgery and wishing you hadn’t. I was trying to inform you about the latest evidence showing great results from non-surgery, at least when combined with a fast rehab protocol. That sounds like GOOD news to me, but it scared you?

    I promise to re-read my comments, and I hope you will, too. Maybe one or both of us will learn something. I know I hate giving offense when I’m trying to be informative and helpful.

    EG, thanks for the extra info on Ric. I hadn’t checked him out, and you didn’t mention that you had.

  11. dennis on September 19, 2010 7:11 am

    normofthenorth - I’ve emailed you to your personal account.. please reply to my e-mail. thanks.

  12. normofthenorth on September 19, 2010 11:03 pm

    Dennis, thanks for the gracious, friendly, and constructive criticism, to which I’ve responded personally. I am quite sad that I infuriated both of these ATR patients. In addition to re-reading my posts to try to avoid infuriating others, I think I’ll also concentrate on posting to blogs where I’m more welcome (which do exist, fortunately).

    I actually thought that Debi and I had been having a constructive and helpful exchange, a couple of weeks ago, until she “piled on” here. EG was clear from the start that I had offended her with my first pushy post, though I thought we’d gotten over that in subsequent exchanges, but no.

    I may be blunt and pushy, but I CAN take a hint. . .

  13. kaston on September 20, 2010 6:52 am

    emma, how long do you have your 90 deg cast on for, and are you going directly to 2 shoes after you get it off? if you’re going into 2 shoes at 6 weeks, you’ll be following my protocol pretty much exactly. so far it seems that my protocol is pretty unique and aggressive, so i’d be interested to hear about someone else that’s also doing it.

  14. emmagiselle on September 23, 2010 11:02 am

    Hi Kaston; I have my cast on for another 3 weeks tomorrow….Oct 15th it comes off! My surgeon gave me a prescription for heel inserts which I’ve now ordered from the pharmacy & she asked me to bring my trainers with me. as well as the inserts, to my next appointment. So, yes; I’ll be back in 2 shoes again at approx 6 & a half weeks post op. How are you getting on ? I’ll have to read your blog again to remind myself of your dates.
    It’ll be lovely to wear BOTH my trainers again…..

  15. Tim on September 29, 2010 10:33 am

    Well done on the rehab and 10/10 for the gym visit / swimming. I like you attitude and no doubt you will back to playing tennis soon.

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    • emmagiselle has completed the grueling 26.2 ATR miles to full recovery!
      Goal: 365 days from the surgery date.
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