Learning how to walk again Open Thread


I’m off crutches — hurrah! — for the first time in a month and a half. It’s wonderful to be free of them. I used them as awkwardly and inelegantly on the last day as I did on the first, something that was both frustrating and painful.

Today I’m learning how to walk again. It turns out that a mere six weeks is more than long enough for muscles to atrophy and muscle memory to die. The atrophy brings a lot of pain with it and that, combined with the muscle memory loss, means that I’ve lost the knack of walking. I can do it only if I constantly repeat to myself “heel, toe, heel, toe.” Without that mantra, I lapse into a bizarre flat-footed, stiff-kneed gait that throws my whole body off-balance.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that I’m getting better really quickly. The atrophied muscle is already making a come-back, the memory is returning, and I’m feeling more natural with every step I take. I’m confident that, by next week, when the dog walking service ends, I’ll be able to drive to the nearby flat-lands and take my dogs for a good, long walk — good for them and good for me.

More movement also means that my brain feels less stultified. When I was on the crutches, my thoughts were feeling as immobile as my body. Now, everything seems to be ticking along better. So, I’ll have stuff to write later today.

In the meantime, please enjoy this Open Thread.

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  1. says

    Here’s a suggested exercise tip.
    Get on a bed or some other flat structure, with your back on the surface. Then simulate walking movements with your leg in the air. This is to re-coordinate the body’s movement sensors by consciously using muscles that often people put on automatic for most of their life.
    In ancient martial arts, stances which happen at the beginning of a technique, middle, and end of a technique requires conscious focusing of specific muscle groups. That’s the theory behind the mechanic.

  2. says

    Also if your other knee hasn’t undergone motion therapy, but the other knee has, then it will be imbalanced. That means your normal neural impulse commands will get 3X the effects on one joint vs the other, so it will throw off your balance, even without the atrophy.

  3. SADIE says

    Almost forgot, this is an open thread and this is … well, just watch the ad for the travel agency and decide for yourself. 
    No one has found out how to help Denmark’s falling birth rate. Until now. Spies Travels announces a competition where you have to make a baby to win http://do-it-for-denmark.dk

    • says

      To fix the population issue, they need a significant number of families to have 3 children per 2 parents. The minimum isn’t 1 child per 2 parents, but 2 children per 2 parents. Generally large population growths are due to large families, where there are more than THREE children per 2 parent, to replace the death rate and various other “single adult” casualty rates.

      • shirleyelizabeth says

        Just found out baby #3 is a girl. I guess if I get tired of the remarks and looks from everyone here for daring to have more than 1.4 children I could move to Denmark. I spent a few weeks there one summer and found the place to be lovely.

        • says

          Congratulations, shirleyelizabeth!  That’s very exciting.  Here in Marin, three is a very common number, with a lot of people going for four too.  And of course, because this is an affluent community, no one looks askance at this trend.

      • shirleyelizabeth says

        Or I guess I should say, “for daring to have more than 1.4 children without relying on government assistance and raising them within a religious, 2-parent home.” Have to identify the right demons.

  4. says

    Just a word of encouragement: hang in there with the exercises to recover and… Hope you are good as new soon!  :)    I had an injury many years back that took me off my legs, the good part was getting more upper body strength due to using the crutches.  It did take my leg a bit of time to spring back, but it does and of course, yours will.  Best wishes! 

  5. JKB says

    I was on crutches for 12 weeks way back.  25 years now, has it really been that long.  I couldn’t put any weight on one leg for those 12 weeks.  I couldn’t walk across the room without resting at first.  Used the crutches a bit for stability for a few weeks after.  I did come back rather quickly.  
    Thinking about it now, it wasn’t that long but at first I would be dog tired after a day at work and just lie on the futon.  I walked a lot on the crutches and this tiredness resulted in pain and swelling in my wrists.  It faded as I got stronger.  
    It wasn’t long before after work I would go walking.  I lived in Seattle so I started walking around Greenlake.  I’d go about half as far as I thought I could then walk back.  At first I was very self conscious since I was walking 20 yards or so.   But I was doing the circuit around the lake rather quickly.  I was slow but didn’t get weary.   You’ll probably be surprised how fast your leg returns.   I was.  Also, that I didn’t have the limp they said I’d probably have after having my ankle remanufactured.
    So take heart, the comeback will be fast.

  6. DL Sly says

    Book, one thing to keep in mind whilst learning to walk again:
    Fire your quad muscle right before you put that heel down.  And I do mean squeeze it tight.  It will 1)take pressure off your rehabbing knee while it learns to walk and hold you up again; and 2)actually mimics the muscle memory walking sequence only on a more exaggerated and dramatic scale so it’s easier to focus on what you’re doing.
    Congrats on graduating from four legs to two!!
    Keep on keeping on and before you know it, you’ll be back in the dojo.

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