Broken ankle, Phase II: Learning to walk again

I broke my ankle a little over six weeks ago. At first, there was a bit of novelty to my first-ever broken bone. After a couple of days, I was becoming very unhappy with the lack of mobility – and the pain! However, there was very little I could do at the time other than let nature take its healing course. But now I’m ready for Phase II: Learning to walk again!

Broken Ankle: Phase I was six weeks of relative immobility. (For my ankle, not my entire being.) I spent those six weeks wearing a sturdy walking boot. For the first four weeks, I removed the boot for sleeping and bathing – but that was it. But the last two weeks I removed the boot twice a day for stretching and flexing exercises, which helped to prepare me for Phase II. However, at no point did I do any weight-bearing exercises, nor did I do any walking without the boot.

Broken Ankle: Phase II began yesterday and will be completed in six weeks (assuming everything goes well). In Phase II, I will be working to walk without the boot. It will be a slow process, but each day I hope to be able to spend a little bit more time walking on my own. It will be a painful process, too, but I suppose that comes with the “broken” territory!

Of course, Phase II isn’t just strengthening my ankle for walking, it’s also rebuilding and strengthening my calf which has suffered from muscle atrophy. I’ve already noticed that the lack of muscle is making walking difficult, but hopefully, I will manage to rebuild it quickly now that I’m able to do weight-bearing exercises. Frustratingly, after just one day of Phase II, the muscle has already started to protest the extra work I’m asking it to do. But I suppose that’s just my body’s way of reminding me not to push too hard too fast!

I am not exactly sure how I will manage this phase. For the first nearly two weeks, I will be at home and in the office. That makes it a fairly straightforward process: Walk without the boot in the mornings and evenings, but wear the boot to the office. (I might work from home in the mornings next week so that I can easily extend the boot-less time.)

But then, I’ll be off to Croatia for a week to attend (and present a paper at) an academic conference. That will be the third week of Phase II, and I don’t think I will be able to spend an entire day without the boot – especially when I’m at a conference where there will be plenty of walking and standing! So, again, I’m thinking that I might go boot-less at the hotel in the mornings and evenings, then wear the boot to the conference. I will also try to remove the boot throughout the day for some extra strengthening exercises.

Shortly after I return from the conference, I will be heading out to do two weeks’ housesitting. That is where I’m really going to get my Phase II boot-less walking in! I will spend the two weeks working from “home”, and won’t be heading into the office (or out in public at all, really) for that time. Not having to travel away from home will mean that I don’t have to worry about needing the boot and not having it. I hope that those two weeks will create the right circumstances for my healing. (There’s also a hot tub and exercise bike, both of which will really be useful!)

A couple of days after I’m done housesitting, I will be heading off to Denmark for another academic conference. By then, I will be on the last half of the sixth week of Phase II. I hope that I will be strong enough to be completely boot-less before I finish housesitting so that I can head off to Denmark without worrying about my walking boot.

Broken Ankle: Phase III will begin as soon as Phase II ends, which will be October 16th. By then, I should  I will be completely out of the walking boot. I will also be allowed to run at this point, although as I will be travelling I will hold off another week to attempt running. And even then, I’ll be taking it very slowly!

I don’t know how long Phase III will last, as it’s the “getting back to normal” phase. And I’m told that it can take several months to fully recover after Phase II ends. I really am looking forward to the day when I can run and jump and climb again without pain and worry!

To read more about my progress, follow the links below:
I am broken
Two weeks broken
Four weeks broken
Six weeks broken
Broken ankle, Phase II: Learning to walk again
Eight weeks broken
Ten weeks broken
Twelve weeks broken
Broken ankle, Phase III: Getting back to normal

[Photo note: Clearly, this was a staged photo. I can barely walk in high heels without an unsteady ankle, so I definitely won’t be walking in them until I’ve fully recovered!]

4 Replies to “Broken ankle, Phase II: Learning to walk again”

  1. Hi,

    Just read your article. Thanks for posting it. I broke my ankle in three places last Easter and had to have surgery. Right now I’m in the boot, but supposedly I can go bootless starting tomorrow, a prospect that’s a little daunting to think about. One question: When I go bootless, will I still need to walk with crutches? I have a call into my surgeon’s assistant but have not heard back yet, so I’ve been trolling the internet to try to find out if I need to still use crutches once I’m bootless.


    1. Hi, Franny. Thank you for your note.

      It sounds like your break was much more complex than mine, so I wouldn’t really be comfortable with advice on using the crutches or not. If they told you that you can bare your full weight on the ankle once you remove the boot, I would guess that you wouldn’t need the crutches. (But you should confirm with your doctor.)

      However, I can tell you that I carried a walking stick for a while when I was walking without the boot. I didn’t need it for full support, but it helped my balance at times and it was a visual shout out to others that I was a member of the walking wounded. The bonus was that it got me first-class treatment when I was travelling through the airport. It was bliss!! 🙂

      I hope that you heal up quickly!!
      All my best,

  2. I walking with a cane now after broken ankle surgery was broken 3 places . Now my knee starting to hurt me because I have a bad limp when I walk not sure what do about knee hurting I try walk with out limp and bend my knee when walking I got a knee brace help with pain feel like going backwards now .

    1. Ugg, I hate it when nursing one injury causes pain somewhere else!

      I was in a walking boot for several weeks and it was quite chunky causing a weird limp, which caused a bit of pain in my other knee. To fix it, I started wearing a chunky hiking shoe on the “good” leg so that each leg was the same height. It was still awkward to walk, but it did make it better.

      I hope you’re able to find a solution that works for you. In the meantime, just remember that healing is a slow process, so be kind to yourself. Good luck!!

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