2 months - first few steps without the boot

So last Wednesday marked the 2 month date since my surgery. I saw the doctor who told me that my walking in the boot was normal which was excellent. I feel comfortable walking in the boot now but I still can’t manage to get much past 1km in a single walk. I am still trying to increase the range slowly but my leg gets tired and sore at about that time. My walking is slow, but as long as I take small steps and think about walking then my gait is pretty normal. I am lucky that my boot doesn’t have a very big sole so the uneveness between the boot and my shoe is pretty small.

I am comfortably sleeping without the boot now. And I have been standing in bare feet for about a week and gradually transferring my weight onto my bad foot. But I hadn’t taken any steps without my boot.

On Thursday morning I wanted to get a sock so I could put my boot on. The socks were about 3 steps away and I really didn’t want to put the boot on to get them and then take it off again. So I decided to go for it and take the steps without the boot, but using my crutches for security. I had no problem putting most of the weight on my bad foot but I was shocked by how weak the leg felt.

Since then I have been increasingly not using my boot around the house. I can manage to get around without crutches now, but I don’t feel comfortable with walking yet so I think it will be a while before I go outside without the boot. I don’t have much of a limp but every step seems like a big effort. Although the first few steps with the boot were the same and now walking in that is easy so hopefully it won’t take long for improvements to show up.

I haven’t had much pain. I get occasional short pains in the Achilles but they never last for more than a minute or so. My heel sometimes feels sore, especially when I walk a longer distance. My calf muscle ached terribly for most of last week but has eased off now. I am still getting knee pain some of the time too.

For exercises I am doing the following (by myself not PT directed):

cycling for 2o minutes per day using the boot — I am up to level 4 on the resistance now (my husband tells me level 5 is like normal flat cycling)

walking about 1km per day in a single session (trying to increase this distance gradually)

30 leg raises and clam shells

stretching using a latex band (plantar flexion, inversion and eversion)

dorsiflexion stretches without the band and ankle rotations

making a bridge

My PT has hinted that he might give me some exercises when the boot comes off. If he doesn’t then I shall stop going. I wish I could find a better one, but it is not possible where I live. At least there is useful information available on the internet.

Overall I am happy with my progress, but I also feel like there is still a long way to go. As they say in Korea " 이팅 (f ighting)!".

9 Responses to “2 months - first few steps without the boot”

  1. Hi Kiwibug, it sounds like things are moving along for you! So good to hear. I am a bit further along than you (12 weeks post-op), however, I only started bearing weight at 11 weeks. I wasn’t able to wear the boot because my incision wasn’t not healing and the boot constantly was rubbing on it. So I went from wearing a splint lined with fleece from week 5 through week 11, when my OS told me I could get into 2 shoes and start “shuffling”. I called my brother, a PT, who advised me to put wear the boot and start PWB. I did that for a day but the boot started to irritate the incision sight again so I just put 2 shoes on and started to PWB. I also did as you, gradually putting weight on the surgical foot. I was so scared since I hadn’t been walking in the boot prior. The first few steps were awkward, but surprisingly, not painful. I am now in 2 shoes and can walk without the walker, which I find easier to use than crutches. I can’t walk for for very long because I also am very weak. My lower back gets tired and painful, as does my hamstring, quad, glutes, calf and bottom of my heel. I am working on strengthening using bands and riding an exercise bike. I think you are doing the right exercises as I am doing most of the same ones which my PT gave me. I also slowly stretch my achiiles by sitting at the edge of a chair with the bad foot behind and the good one in front and then leaning my body forward keeping the bad heel on the floor. Kind of like a runners stance, only sitting. I am still unable to do this standing but I really feel a good stretch in the achilles doing it sitting. I do this after all the other exercises when the achilles and ankle have warmed up. After doing this I find it easier to walk. I am sorry you can’t find a good PT. I would be happy to let you know what new things I am instructed in, as I believe we are close in our rehab timeline. This is a long, hard journey and it sure helps to have this blog to be able to compare experiences. Wishing you continued success on your road to recovery.

  2. Missterik it sounds like things are progressing well for you too now that your incision is healing.

    Thank you for the description of your stretch. I understand what you mean and will give it a go after my next set of exercises.

    I would love to hear what new exercises your PT gives you.

    I saw my doctor today who told me I can start walking without the boot next month. I am interpreting that as “walking outside” as he didn’t listen to me when I tried to tell him that I had started already around my house :)

    I also saw the PT today, who asked me if I had any pain or problems. When I said I didn’t he wondered why I had bothered going to the hospital then! So, I feel like I am on my own with the PT. Therefore, the support from this site is greatly appreciated.

    I hope your recovery continues well too.

  3. Walking around the house is absolutely the first and best self therapy you can do. Practice practice practice. I can’t tell you how many circles around the house I made. But it always prepared me for those first steps outside…first day outside can be an incredible struggle. But the best way to look at it is…take your time, stay away from uneven surfaces, and realize it very very necessary pain and struggle to get to day 2 outside then day 3, then 4. Sometimes a simple walk around the block made me confident and happier. But you will be stunned when the speed picks up, the limp starts to fade, and you start feeling like yourself again. Takes patience and confidence in the big picture. The greatest feeling I had recently…was simply going to the local store and back..on my own. Took me 30 minutes. but I made it. Now it takes me under 15. Soon..5.

  4. I am sorry you are not getting better care from your PT. I had PT today and did the following exercises in the order listed:

    Foot circles in both directions - 3 sets/10 each direction
    Spelling out the alphabet with your foot - 1x slowly
    Toe curls - 3 sets/10
    Pulling toes up - 3 sets/10
    Using the easiest elastic band - dorsiflexion , plantarflexion, inversion and aversion - 3 sets/10
    Seated heel lifts - 3 sets/10
    Seated toe lifts - 3 sets/10
    Seated wobble board - with both feet resting on board, moved feet forward and back
    I also used a rope with a foot stirrup attached to slowly stretch the achilles. I did this 10 times, holding each one for 20 seconds. However, being you are only at 8 weeks, I would check with your doctor before stretching. I am not certain, but I think I read that it is at 12 weeks post-op when it is safe to start stretching. Too soon is no bueno. I also rode a recumbent bike for 20 minutes.

    Please keep in mind that I am 1 month further along than you and have no clue as to what is ok at 8 weeks vs. 12 weeks. I imagine the ROM exercises are fine but not so sure about the stretching. The PT did massage my foot and stretched the achilles before I began any of the exercises.

    I hope this makes sense and helps you out. If you have any questions let me know. In the meantime happy healing!!

  5. crawllimpwalkrunjump thank you for your support.. I am already walking better around the house than I was a few days ago.

    Staying away from uneven surfaces worries me a lot as it is impossible to do around here. All of the pavements (sidewalks) are extremely uneven, so I feel that I need my leg to be stronger before I go outside without the boot.

    missterik thank you for the description of your exercises. I think I will hold off on the stretching for the moment, but the other exercises all seem possible. I have done some more research on PT and discovered that the treatment I am getting is pretty standard in Korea - they don’t do much of the exercise style PT here.

  6. Kiwibug, You are very welcome. In my own personal opinion…trying to be careful what I say now…:), take your time rushing outside. I find my happiest moment is waking up in the morning and the first step I take out of bed not being painful at all and just amazed how quick I get to the kitchen. But…I must say…there really is a difference between in the house, and outdoors. I’m still disappointed how slow I was today after day 5 days of learning to walk again. So funny how it seems so easy in the house. It’s still a big struggle I admit. Today made it to the gym which also took me longer than I expected, but keeping my spirits up. I know it takes time and patience and practice…I made it up 2 flights of stairs…but again, going down stairs..definite struggle. So for me, I know walking around the house is very important, and Epsom salt baths and still doing R.I.C.E after being on my feet more than 20 minutes. I’m very sorry to hear about all the uneven roads around you. My first couple days, i got a friend to drive me to a park and they just helped me practice a bit. Trust me..I tried to walk on simply grass day 3 and even that wasn’t too much fun. Too early still even for me. I’m focusing on just flat surface, and trying to walk straighter, and less limping. So hard, but its part of the journey and since we all going thru it..I believe it will get easier day by day. Good luck kiwibug.

  7. Using a walker has enabled me to dare to venture outdoors. I don’t need it for weight bearing, more for balance and I feel so secure on the uneven pavement with it. I really didn’t want to use a walker but I am glad I was convinced (by my brother who is a PT but lives in another state) to give it a try. It has made all the difference for me. Otherwise, I would be stuck in the house 24/7 since I have never been able to use a boot. My biggest fear, as I am sure is yours as well, is falling and rerupturing. You will be outside without the boot before you know it! Be careful! I will let you know when my PT gives me new exercises.

  8. crawllimpwalkrunjump you are pretty much describing how I felt about walking outside with the boot. Going out for the first few times was so much harder and scarier than walking around inside. But it soon improved and my walking has got faster and easier.

    My plan too was to travel somewhere with a fairly smooth surface for my first steps boot free outside.

    missterik I understand what you mean about the walker. To start with for FWB in the boot I was using one crutch as it made me much more balanced and I felt safer. I will probably take it out again with my when I venture outside boot free for the first time.

  9. Yesterday was my first day going to the gym to begin my workout routine, mostly calf extensions with 10 lb weight. So sad, 10lbs!! I used to be able to push 95-110lbs with my feet. But it is what it is. I like the challenge of getting back to where I was slowly.. Mainly focusing on stability, since I don’t like that nervous feeling of tipping over when my weight shifts between legs sometimes. Also need more work practicing stairs. I really do hope you get the chance to be outside with someone holding you, just to taste a bit of sunshine, fresh air, and a little tiny confidence building moment boot free..of course only when the time is right. I can’t lie, its much nicer to go outside with someone than alone, but in my case, gotta keep practicing and making little progress on my own too, even if just a short stroll around the block. Can only zip around the house so many times in one day before you are sick of seeing the darn four walls! LOL

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