A Walk in the Woods


I spent the past weekend along the north shore of Lake Superior. This is a popular vacation destination in Minnesota, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. The north shore is littered with state parks containing numerous trails leading to spectacular views of waterfalls, wildlife, and the grandest Great Lake. This was actually a trip that was originally planned for mid-January. The plan was to spend a long weekend x-country skiing and snowshoeing on the various trails. Unfortunately, my tendon rupture forced us to change our plans. We decided to postpone the trip until April, knowing I’d be a bit more mobile then. Unfortunately, we had to ditch the skis and snowshoes and settle for a walk in the woods.

We actually took a couple of hikes over the weekend. Neither of any great distance, but it was nice to challenge my balance on the uneven surfaces of the trails. It was also nice to walk on the more forgiving softness of the trails for a change rather than hard sidewalks. For the most part, everything felt pretty good. I still don’t have much strength in the calf and my leg tires a bit more quickly, but the shorter distance hikes were pretty comfortable. It was a bit humbling to go on a hike and not be able to bound around like a ten year old. I normally enjoy hiking for that exact reason. I’m always looking for the challenging routes, enjoying the opportunity to scramble over rocks or hop across a low flowing stream.

However, on this weekend I found great joy just making my way along the easy trails while seeking the path of least resistance. There were a few challenges along the way as portions of the trails were still covered with snow and ice. I forced myself to take it very easy through these sections, even excepting the outstretched hand of my girlfriend from time to time! Although my steps are still a bit shorter than normal, it was nice to take another step towards a full recovery.

6 Responses to “A Walk in the Woods”

  1. Tom..
    Always good to stop and smell the roses once in awhile.
    Glad to hear things are moving forward. Sounds like you are going to really appreciate returning to skiing.
    Keep up the good work and keep us informed
    Doc Ross

  2. Tom - glad that you were able to go out on the hikes. It sounds like a nice place to visit. I guess the strength in the calf muscle returns gradually.

    At least for me, I’ve noticed that improvements are more gradual and less noticeable after the point at which I am able to walk around in regular shoes.

    In addition, it’s been too easy to slip back to old daily routines and skip out on the physical therapy exercises.
    I think from this point on is the real test on how much I recover from this injury.

    I ran across the idea of Hawthorne Effect, which says that if something is measured, the performance improves. I think this is where the exercise charts and progress trackers are valuable.

    I think we’ve done a good job at providing support for the initial stages of the recovery, and I think we can improve on the 10 weeks - 1 year stage. Not exactly sure how.. ;) but I think we have a good start.

  3. Tom - thanks for the post. I took my first walk around the block yesterday with no crutches. I had a stroller to lean on which helped out. I am really looking forward to my first walk in the woods, sans boot.

    Dennis - I can attest to the Hawthorne Effect…at least it definitley applies to businesses. With this injury and rehab, the thing that is different is that you have to benchmark against yourself..not others..which can be tough at times, I know it has been for me. I would love to be in Jim’s shoes, well, except for that rash :) but my heel just doesn’t feel ready to be out of the boot yet. This has been a great lesson for me…and one I’ll continue to learn upon as I progress.

  4. Dennis/Brendan - I completely agree with your comments. I found that tracking my workouts provides that extra incentive to ensure I don’t skip out on any exercises. The progress is definitely more gradual now that I’ve been back in shoes for several weeks which makes it mentally difficult. There are days when I think I’ve just about eliminated the limp only to wake up the next morning feeling like I’ve regressed by a week. I’m trying to find the right balance of giving the tendon and calf a good workout without pushing things too far.

    And, Brendan, you’re completely right about benchmarking against yourself and not others. I think that is a very important point for people to realize. We can’t get discouraged or try to push things too hard just because someone else is hitting a milestone at an earlier point.

  5. Brendan - yes, I agree that it’s a benchmark against yourself. The recovery really depends on the person.

    I guess I wanted the point to be that keeping track of your own progress and and keeping a consistent record of your exercises is crucial.
    I was looking at my exercise record, and there are some big gaping blank entries ever since I’ve been able to walk around with out too much difficulty. :(

    It’s become a bit of a cliche.. it’s a marathon.. but you aren’t competing with the other runners.

  6. I think it’s an important enough point to emphasize. I’ve added a warning in: http://achillesblog.com/atrpt.php

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