Dumbbells in the gym

Do you know how to walk?

Ok, so I know that sounds like a stupid question. Of course we all know how to walk, unless we were born with some disability. Or do we, really? How would you describe every step in the process of walking? When you take the next step, exactly what do you do? Do you start on the heel or mid foot? How fast do you linger in the step before switching foot? What makes you stable while you switch foot? And so on…

I’ve had a 4,5 month long horror show journey with a stress fracture in the foot, and until recently, I haven’t done any real walking since April. During that time, I’ve done everything between limping, hobbling with crutches and “walking” with a CAM boot, which I was using for 8 weeks. A month ago I started getting out of the boot, and my physiotherapist gave me a 4-week program to wean off the boot and the crutches. I’m now on week 5 and since a bit over a week, I’m walking at home without a crutch. Or rather, “walking”.

I thought it would be straightforward. You know, just getting back to something I’ve been doing my entire life. It isn’t that easy. First of all, after an injury and especially after using a boot for a long time, the foot is a disaster zone of random aches and pains and all sorts of pins and needles and stuff because of nerves waking back up and muscles and tissues being loaded for the first time in AGES.

Secondly, after such a long time not walking, I’ve become used to having to be careful not putting weight on the foot, and later learning to get around with one leg higher than the other and with no ankle joint. The art of real walking seems to have disappeared from my brain.

Yes, I do remember that it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and sort of moving forward. LOL.

However, there’s more to it.

Have you ever thought of how much balance you need for simple walking? I’m fascinated. Even when I feel like I walk somewhat normally, I walk with a limp without even thinking of it. Some of it is fear and that I don’t fully trust the foot, but most of it is lack of balance and stability. I’ve lost so much of these skills that it’s scary.

However, this can be fixed, and I’ll be ok. I saw the physio yesterday, and have new homework to do. There’s massive balance & stability training going on here now! I’m very hopeful that I’ll be back walking in no time.

To put things into perspective

Instagram was hard in the beginning of the summer. Who needs to see all those perfect people reels being fed to you when you’re having a long lasting injury?

Among all the noise, I’ve also found some amazing accounts that I now love to follow, people who kick ass and do all the hard things despite circumstances. A 74-year-old lady who climbs trees and does all the cool things (age is just a number, you know). A marathon runner with a leg prosthesis – she had her leg amputated because of cancer and now she runs to raise money for cancer care and research. A young man who was partly paralysed in an accident but can do most things because he’s made is upper body super strong. A lady with a hand/lower arm prosthesis who does pull-ups and all other kinds of fancy lifts. Another young man who had some spinal cord or if it was brain injury, was told he would never walk again and now he’s in marathon training. Our own (in terms of Swedish) Anna Holmlund who was a an Olympics ski cross athlete but got a serious head injury in 2016 during training. Now she seems to be back in sports, but as a swimmer and more. And the list goes on.

The concept of doing hard things despite circumstances is very inspiring and empowering.

One of these people is a Swedish woman, a few years younger than me, who got a brain bleeding in January this year and she shares her rehab journey on her Instagram account. She is extremely inspiring and you should go follow her, she writes in Swedish but you can always click “see translation” below the caption.

I’m still scared to of using my foot normally, but seeing people like these gives some oomph and also reminds me how insignificant my own injury really was, in comparison. I’m very fortunate after all, I’m getting out at the other end of the tunnel now and I WILL get back walking 10+k again!

Here are some inspiring people to follow on Instagram:

Long time no see, I’m joining Denyse’s words and pics link-up.

Featured image by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

20 responses to “Do you know how to walk?”

  1. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 avatar

    So many inspirational people aren’t there, Susanne. I’m so glad you are moonboot free but I can understand the hesitancy in doing normal things like walking. I’ve recently had a health scare where I couldn’t do any strenuous activities until after various tests. Fortunately, the stress test results were good but I will be on medication now so have to accept that. Life can be good we just have to do it in our own way and in our own time. Take care and lovely to have you back. xx

    1. Susanne avatar

      I’m glad to hear your stress tests were ok and it’s good to see you out for walks in your Instagram posts. Will you be able to go back to running? I agree that we need to find our way to keep living a good life despite the circumstances. I’m almost back on track but need a lot of strengthening and other work.

  2. Bernie Cruikshank avatar

    I fractured two ribs at the end of March and man it has been a long slow road back. Lots of things I can do without any pain but getting into and out of bed are not included in that list. I also haven’t been able to do any weight/strength training and I can really tell. It’s just time – that’s what my doctor and physio say and pushing it too hard isn’t the best scenario – when it’s what I would like to do. So yes I get how something as simple as walking is not that simple. Good luck with the recovery.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Ouch, broken ribs can be slow going! I can imagine that interrupts the strength training routine quite a lot. I hope you get better soon!

  3. Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au avatar

    Hi Susanne – I’m so sorry to hear your struggles. After my hip issues last year and then my replacement operation, I know what it’s like to walk with a limp and to depend on elbow crutches. I hated it and was so relieved when I finally got my walking back to normal after probably 6+ months of feeling like an old, waddling woman. You’ll get your walking back, but (as you know) it takes time and persistance – and the longer you were disabled for, the longer the recovery. You’re young, fit and healthy, so I’m sure you’ll be back to long walks and striding before too many more months go by. I was soooo excited when I realized I had my stride back again!

    1. Susanne avatar

      It’s awful, isn’t it? We don’t realise how blessed we are being mobile and healthy until something like this happens. And crutches is the worst! I’ll never take walking for granted again and I’ll enjoy every second of it. Tonight I’ll go out crutch-less for the first time! I’m making a lot of progress with my exercises and if I continue like this I hope to be close to normal in a month when my in-laws come to visit. Perhaps not ready for 10k rough road walks but definitely ok enough to be out and about!

  4. Catrina avatar

    We take walking for granted!
    My dad is struggling with walking at 85. I accompany him to the physio appointments where we (I join in!) do exercises to strengthen the muscles (squats) and some balancing stuff. It’s tough – he’s been neglecting it for so long it’s nearly too late now.
    You are right about the inspiring stories! I’m not on IG but I do see how these people can be very motivating!

    1. Susanne avatar

      That’s wonderful that your dad is doing some strengthening exercises! More people at that age should do that. And how cool that you join in too. If he keeps at it he should get better even at 85!
      I’m almost not on IG either, lol! I hate what the platform has become, but my former colleagues in Sweden are there so I’ve stayed on there, and I’ve enjoyed finding these other people.

  5. Darlene S Cardillo avatar

    There are so many inspiring people.. I do follow NC Runner Jacky on IG. She is amazing.

    We often take our health for granted.

    Training for a marathon is hard but right now I CAN do hard things… who knows when that will change.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Marathon training is definitely hard! My husband planned to to a marathon earlier this year but developed a knee problem. There’s so much to learn about how to best prepare and ramp up training. Now if all goes well he’ll try again next year.
      When is your marathon? (Perhaps you’ve mentioned it but I can’t remember) I definitely think we should keep doing hard things as long as we can. It’s good for the soul!

      1. Darlene S Cardillo avatar

        Nov 5!!!

  6. Joanne avatar

    I did initially think “of course I do!” but you bring up so many good points! I had a minor foot injury last year and I found that walking differently to compensate for it did bring up food and leg pain everywhere else. Thankfully I was able to stay off it for a month or so (as much as one can stay off of a food anyway) and it seems fully healed now. You have gotten the hardest part over with at this point and I’m sure you’ll remember how to walk “properly” very soon as you rebuild up those muscles that haven’t been used nearly as much.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, it’s not so obvious when you think of it, right? I’m sorry to hear you also had a foot injury. Limping to compensate can create so much trouble! A friend of mine had a wound under his foot and walked sort of on the outside of the foot and he ended up with knee tendonitis and had problems for ages after that.
      I’m definitely over the worst! But it was quite humbling walking in town today, where sidewalks go in all directions, after walking in my safe space at home. Eeek! I have a long way to go. But yes, it will go fast now that I’m really working on it.

  7. Astrid avatar

    I am so glad your mobility is improving. I have mild cerebral palsy, which in itself is not progressive but often leads to decreasing mobility at a younger age than non-disabled adults experience. As a result, now at age 37, I walk with quite a limp on my left side.

    I am so happy watching those inspirational Instagram accounts helps you. It personally wouldn’t help me, as I would know I cannot achieve what they do and this makes me feel like a failure. I’d much rather watch social media by people who accomplish ordinary things.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, I know where you’re coming from with Instagram. I used to feel like that about running, but have relaxed about it and can appreciate certain accounts, like the lady with the amputated leg, and several running bloggers that I follow. I’m still interested in running although I can’t (or have decided not to) get back to doing it myself. To me it’s more about the concept rather than whether it’s something I could do myself. Obviously if I hadn’t been involved in fitness and training at all anymore, I would see this differently.

  8. Denyse Whelan avatar

    YAAY for being back blogging and linking up too. Oh my gosh, yes I understand the challenges of walking…and it is so not straightforward. After breaking my leg (fibula) in 2003 and being in a cast, because it was also surgically pinned, I had to have physio to give my calf the message it was needed to walk again. It hurt so much initially I hit my friend the physio…oops. How interesting is it that we can take so much for granted with mobility and ease of movement until we can’t! That same fibula is now my jaw and I had to walk with some care when the area was still in wound recovery over 3 months but I just kept on doing walking over time as I always had and I went well. Phew. Still do. I fact I am off for a neighbourhood walk when I finish the comments!

    Thank you so much for sharing your blog post for the first link up of Denyse’s Words and Pics. I hope too, that you will be back next Wednesday. Warm wishes and appreciation from Denyse.

    1. Susanne avatar

      LOL that’s so funny that you hit the physio! I didn’t really have pain when I took my first steps but it felt like stepping on a cactus and the foot felt so weak and almost numb. I had the cactus feeling (lots of pins and needles) for many weeks, actually it’s only this week it’s beginning to totally disappear.
      I’ll never take walking for granted again and when I’m back on track, only snow, ice, storms and illness will be able to stop me from going for daily walks!

  9. Debbie Harris avatar

    There’s so much more to walking than we think Susanne. I’m so glad you’re taking it slowly and doing your homework as it’s very important. Welcome back and take care.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Oh the rehab homework keeps me so busy, Debbie! I barely have time left to work on my business! But it’s worth it.

  10. Anne avatar

    Oh, Susanne, I know this feeling so well. I’ve had to relearn how to do so many things in the last 6 years. I hope that it continues to improve – it will! – and that you are feeling stronger and stronger. (And I know you are, thanks to being more up to date on IG than on blogs… sigh…)

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