We ended our last chapter with me faced with the anxiety of having to follow doctor’s orders and begin standing and walking on my broken foot. I had never broken a bone before, nor had I ever experienced a fall that produced a major injury, and I was scared. Walking and exercising?? I knew he could not be serious.
It turns out, he was: placing weight on that foot and walking with the aid of a walking boot would not only strengthen the bone and keep muscles toned, but also prevent rare blood clots from forming. My recovery depended upon it, so I needed to take it seriously too. If I could only get past my fear.
The fear of falling is a very real condition with detrimental consequences. It can be experienced by those who have had serious falls, like me, or those who have never fallen but fear they will. Being afraid to fall limits activities related to daily living and exercise. Limiting this activity leads to loss of muscle strength and balance (if you don’t use it, you will lose it), which increases the risk of, you guessed it, falling.
While the risk of falling is higher in those over the age of 65, it is important that all of us pay attention much earlier. How many of us have adjusted our activities based on ‘being out of shape’ or ‘not wanting to try’. Do you avoid stairs and take the elevator? Do you avoid getting on the floor because it is difficult getting back up? Avoiding activity because you do not want to do it is a precursor to falling later. If you don’t use it, you will lose it; or more accurately, your body won’t have the tools it needs, i.e. muscle strength and coordination, to prevent you from falling when you stumble.
Right at this moment, that soap box speech of mine applied to me. So, back at home, with my orthopedic foot boot firmly Velcro-ed in place, I stood up and placed weight on that foot. I felt a few twinges of pain, but kept telling myself, “the doctor said it was safe, so I am ok.” Honestly, it required deep breaths and me repeating that a few times to convince myself I wasn’t breaking the bone all over again.
Moving on my feet required crutches, and walking with crutches resembled more of a hop or scoot, with the upper body supporting the legs. To truly walk, I needed to stand upright and move both the legs and arms in a coordinated pattern. This is how the body is designed to move. I knew that regaining my strength and coordination required me to practice in this way.
So, I brought out my Urban Poling Activator Poles. By following the technique used with the poles, I walked for the first time in almost 3 weeks! My back was straight, and my arm and leg movements were coordinated, although this did take some mental focus. Honestly, I was surprised that walking was not something that came to me immediately.
It took serious thought to get everything moving properly again, not to mention struggle with my anxiety too. Since the Activator poles are designed to handle some body weight, I could rely on them for stability. Plus, the handles are designed ergonomically with a safety ledge to give me a secure grip. I felt more confident and could focus on walking, which required more focus than I expected.
While I was still a long way from where I was before the fall, it was a start. Today, I conquered the little path in front of my house with someone watching just in case; tomorrow will be the sidewalk and down the street! Watch out world!
It turns out walking with Activator poles is only the start of what I can do for my recovery! Join me in the next chapter to learn about strength and flexibility exercises you can do with walking poles. Bring your own poles, or even a broomstick, to try the exercises along with me!
I would love to hear about your journey coming back from injury and what techniques you used that helped. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on this blog or on the Healthy Penny’s Facebook Page. I have more information on Urban Poling
and Activator poles at healthypennyswellness.com.