My magic shoes for broken ankle recovery

vionicWhen I became full weight bearing after broken ankle surgery, my physical therapist told me to get some orthopedic shoes with laces for good support. Not having anything like that I went online and found these amazing Vionic venture women’s mesh athletic shoes.

My left foot and ankle were in constant pain, especially the heel, and I felt I needed extra cushioning there so I paired them with Tuli’s heavy duty heel cups that I already owned from a prior bout with plantar fasciitis.

Together, these are my magic shoes which help me walk without limping and make it easier to do my ankle rehabilitation exercises.

Here are more details on what to look for in an orthopedic shoe and why these Vionic shoes work well for me, as well as cleaning instructions to keep them looking like new.

My magic Vionic shoes

My magic Vionic shoes for my “bionic” ankle

What to look for in an orthopedic shoe after an ankle fracture

  • Proper fit
  • Flexibility
  • Arch support
  • Cushioned comfort
  • Good traction on the sole
  • Lightweight

Why I love my magic Vionic shoes

  • These shoes are made true to size with a little extra room in the toes. I ordered my correct size and there was still plenty of room for orthotics which I highly recommend to anyone with foot pain.
  • The sole is flexible, allowing the foot to bend properly while walking.
  • The footbed holds the foot in proper alignment and is removable for cleaning. Good support is crucial when learning to walk without limping because the foot is weak during the rehabilitation process. The footbed comes up higher on the side where the arch is and that’s where I feel it stabilizes my foot to keep me balanced through each step.
  • The shoe is cushioned lightly in the footbed and more heavily padded around the opening. It feels like a little pillow around my sore ankle.
  • The stretchy mesh fabric keeps feet cooler and more comfortable. I also like that the tongue is sewn in place, making it a little easier to get on.
  • The rubber soles have little ridges on the bottom for good traction.
  • With the shoe being so lightweight and properly padded, I can wear them all day and practically forget I have them on.
  • Finally, they’re just cute and the bright pink color I chose makes me happy!

Cleaning my magic shoes

Getting ready to clean my magic shoes

Getting ready to clean my magic shoes

Instructions for this are lacking so I had to do some digging and learned that they can’t be washed in the washing machine or soaked in water. That presents a challenge when you end up with mud all over your shoes like I did one time. So what I did was to let the mud dry and then brush off as much as I could.

Then I used an enzyme cleaner solution that I mixed from powder and placed in a spray bottle.

Biokleen enzyme cleaner

Biokleen enzyme cleaner

I saturated the shoes with the solution and let them sit in the sink for about 20 minutes.

Spraying Biokleen on my shoes

Spraying Biokleen on my shoes

After that I scrubbed gently with a scrub brush, rinsed with water and put them in the sun to dry for a while.

And voila, they look like new again.

Related posts

Broken ankle recovery: learning to walk again

Rehabbing my broken ankle

Broken ankle recovery: one year later

Rehabbing my broken ankle

walking up stepsWhen I broke my ankle two months before my 60th birthday in 2015, my number one priority was getting back on my feet as soon as possible. I was going to do everything in my power to make that happen. I believe healing is very much a proactive thing that involves the body, mind and spirit.

The details of my ankle rehabilitation continue below.

For the backstory, click here.

The medical evaluation

Following my trimalleolar fracture, I was told some dire things such as: the best outcome would be that I could walk again, it would take three to five months to be able to walk, I would be at risk for arthritis.

To all this I replied no, I’m going to get back on my feet fast, I’m going to get all my function back and I’m not going to get arthritis. And that left them speechless.

I did not, and still do not, accept any of that as my fate. This was merely information to use in designing my healing protocol.

Healing a broken ankle with nutrition

All good health begins with good nutrition (food and supplements) which is even more important when healing from an injury. The body is designed to heal itself but it needs the raw materials to do so.

My normal diet consists of whole food that I cook myself, but after my accident I made sure to keep it super clean, eliminating sugar and and alcohol because that inhibits healing. I mostly ate high-quality meat along with green vegetables, similar to a paleo diet.

I already take a well-rounded array of supplements, but some new ones were added immediately following the accident. These are all the supplements I feel were the most necessary for healing bones, joints, veins and nerves (purchased from ProCapsLabs.com): ultimate calcium intensive care, glucosamine 1500 and chondroitin 1200, vitamin K2, B-12, marine collagen peptides, circulation and vein support.

Six months after the accident I discovered NOW Foods hyaluronic acid which lubricates the joints (purchased from LuckyVitamin.com). This one made a noticeable difference in the pain and swelling. I wish I’d known about it from the beginning.

A note about vitamins: not all vitamins are created equal. I recommend staying away from tablets and the stuff you find at big box stores and drug stores.

Using the mind for healing

This is going to sound a little woo-woo, but what you believe you manifest. Your brain pays attention to what you tell it. So you don’t want to say to yourself, I’m never going to walk, even though it may feel that way. When those negative thoughts creep in, it’s important to kick them out immediately.

I repeated these affirmations throughout the day:

I’m healthy,
I’m strong,
I’m well-abled,
I’m restored

When I was still non weight bearing (NWB) and had to stand up using one leg, my leg got really tired from all the extra work. But when I would say “I’m strong,” it actually helped my leg to perform.

And when I was full weight bearing (FWB) but still dependent on the walker, saying to myself “I’m well-abled” was prophesying my full restoration. I would also visualize walking on my own. I believe that helped me to walk just 20 days after becoming FWB.

Another woo-woo thing to some is acupuncture. I decided to get five treatments when I was still struggling to walk, having had great success with it in the past.

Even though I know it works, the way it works is a bit of a mystery. My general understanding is that it helps energy (chi) flow properly through the body. My energy flow was blocked from surgery and the subsequent scar tissue and swelling. Following each treatment I noticed a reduction in pain.

Maintaining positive spirits during broken ankle recovery

It’s uplifting and a nice diversion during recovery to make plans for the future. These are some of the things I thought about:

• Going blonde

• Planning my 60th birthday party

• Giving back to the people who helped me

• Planning my triumphant return to the dance floor

Making myself more comfortable during recovery helped keep my spirits up (getting a knee scooter and a ramp).

Finally, noticing and celebrating the small improvements every day gave me hope.

walking on stairs

Broken ankle exercises

Exercise is an important part of rehabilitating a broken ankle and I think it’s a good idea to start exercising as soon as possible. Here’s a breakdown of what I did from NWB to FWB.

The first two weeks after surgery, I didn’t do anything other than wiggle my toes in the cast. When the cast came off, I noticed that my calf was starting to shrink so I decided to do some exercises on my own.

For the next six weeks I wore a boot and was still NWB. While wearing the boot, which weighed three pounds, I did leg lifts very slowly, 20 reps three times a day. I also did isometric exercises, tensing up the calf and thigh muscles a few times during the day. As a result, there was very little wasting of the calf when the boot came off. My leg still ended up getting weaker and I wish I had done more sessions throughout the day.

Two weeks before being released by the doctor, I started physical therapy. Being NWB I was only allowed to do a few things which I did with the boot removed.

Take advantage of physical therapy if it’s offered to you. I was allowed 21 sessions which I completed over the course of five months.

Ankle exercises for NWB

Ankle pumps: while lying down with the leg elevated, slowly and gently bend foot forward, then straighten it out, stretching as much as possible without causing too much pain (20 reps, 4 sets, 5 times per day).

Toe curls: while still lying down curl toes down then flex them upwards (20 reps, 4 sets, 5 times per day).

Toe flexion/extension: stabilize the heel with one hand, then with the other hand curl toes under and hold for 30 seconds. Then pull the toes up and hold for 30 seconds (2 reps, 1 set, twice per day).

Marble pickup: place a bag of marbles on top of a towel, pick them up with the toes and put them in a bowl or move them from one side to the other (2 to 3 minutes, twice a day).

Toe curls on towel: With a towel on the floor and the foot resting on top, curl the toes to gather up the towel (10 reps, 2 sets, twice per day).

Ankle alphabet: while sitting or lying down, trace the letters of the alphabet using the foot and ankle only (1 rep, 2 sets, twice per day).

Toe tapping: while sitting, tap foot gently on the floor (2 minutes, twice a day).

Foot rocking: while sitting, very gently rock the foot backwards and forwards—toes down, then heel down (2 minutes, twice a day).

Check out this video for a demonstration of some of these broken ankle exercises:

Ankle exercises for FWB

I continued with the NWB exercises plus the following exercises that were phased in as time went on:

Recumbent exercise bike (up to 10 minutes a day)

Weight shifting: while standing on foam mat, shift weight from side to side (2 minutes, once a day)

Calf stretches: stand about three feet away from a wall with the injured leg behind and the other leg in front, keeping heels on the floor, lean against the wall and hold (30 seconds, twice a day)

Standing dorsiflexion: with the injured foot on a step, lean forward until a stretch is felt (30 seconds, twice a day)

Standing dorsiflexion

Standing dorsiflexion

Single leg balance: while standing on a foam mat or just the floor, balance on the injured leg (30 seconds, twice a day)

Theraband stretches: while sitting with the leg straight, put the foot in the center of the band and hold onto the ends with both hands, bend the foot slowly upwards and downwards (20 reps, 2 sets, twice a day)

Theraband stretches

Theraband stretches

Ankle lifts: while lying on the side with the foot hanging off the edge of the couch or table, and with a 1 to 5 pound weight wrapped around the foot, slowly raise and lower injured foot. Roll over to the other side and repeat (10 reps, 2 sets, twice a day)

Ankle lifts

Ankle lifts

Heel raises: while standing and holding onto something, stand on toes and slowly lower yourself down (20 reps, once a day)

Walking (10 to 15 minutes, once a day)

My physical therapist told me it can take a year or longer to regain full range of motion. When I started going there, my dorsiflexion was -5 degrees. On my last session it was 13 degrees. There’s still a ways to go before the left foot catches up with the right one.

Rest

Too little value is given to the power of rest, which goes beyond getting enough sleep. Exercise needs to be balanced with rest because that’s when the body heals itself. Exercise tears down muscle and rest builds it back up again.

There have been times when I’ve pushed myself too hard with exercise and activity which only caused me injury, so now I’ve learned to pace myself. For example, I try not to be on my feet for more than an hour at a time which is then followed up with resting on the couch with my legs up for a while.

As the day goes on, if I find my foot starting to feel more pain to the point that I want to start limping, that’s my cue to stop for the rest of the day and take it easy.

Icing my ankle

Icing my ankle

Nobody can tell you how much you should or should not be doing. You’ll just have to figure that out by listening to your body.

I wish you all well with your healing journey. And remember this: 

You’re healthy,
You’re strong,
You’re well-abled,
You’re restored

Related posts

Broken ankle recovery: learning to walk again

My magic shoes for broken ankle recovery

Broken ankle recovery: one year later

How much do I have to exercise?

Pace Express, the 12 minute workout

Pace Express, the 12 minute workout

That’s the question you might be asking if you’re like me. My goal is to do the least amount of exercise possible and still be fit.

And it turns out that less is more when it comes to working out. Those extreme Biggest Loser-style workouts are actually counterproductive. Short bursts of high intensity movement are much more effective.

And when I learned that 12 minutes is all it takes when you’re doing that type of exercise, I was so intrigued I just had to try it.

I bought PACE Express fully intending to return it within 30 days if I didn’t like it. But guess what, I didn’t return it because I love it and I think you will too.

PACE Express is a six-week program of high intensity workouts that can be tailored to any fitness level. No special equipment is required. Read on to learn more about PACE Express and my review after using it for the last two months.

My review of PACE Express

PACE = Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion

I’m used to doing kettlebells several times a week and I consider myself to be in decent shape for someone approaching sixty. (While evaluating PACE Express, I only did one short kettlebell workout a week.) So I was pleasantly surprised that my muscles were a little sore, in a good way, after working out with PACE Express. Not only that, by the end of the six weeks my heartbeat recovery rate improved. I also feel that my lung capacity increased and that I have less stiffness in the lower back.

Even though these are short workouts, they’re challenging. Afterwards, I’m a little tired, a little sweaty but very proud of myself for sticking with it.

Pace Express from Amazon

Pace Express from Amazon

Top 10 things I like about PACE Express

  1. There’s a lot of variety. There are six DVDs, one for every week. Each DVD has six exercise routines which are different every day. You do one routine a day and on the seventh day you rest.
  2. Each 12 minute routine is broken down into three sessions that last four minutes apiece. There’s a two minute break in between sessions to take your pulse and let your heartbeat recover.
  3. A timer on the screen counts down the four minutes, and the instructor is really good about cuing for the next move.
  4. Every exercise is demonstrated for different fitness levels: low impact, standard and advanced. You can mix and match as you go along.
  5. You don’t get bored because there are eight exercises and each one is only performed for 30 seconds. Every day the exercises are different, and the instructors are switched out so you don’t get tired of looking at the same people.
  6. A music tract accompanies the exercises which you can turn off if you want.
  7. You don’t need weights or any special equipment. There are a couple of floor exercises where a mat might come in handy, or you could just exercise on carpet.
  8. You don’t need a timer to take your pulse as the instructor keeps track of the time.
  9. This is a great value for everything you get. The DVDs alone are worth at least $10 apiece. Each one has 72 minutes of exercise, 432 minutes total. Plus there’s a bonus DVD with additional exercises for abs, hips, buns and thighs.
  10. There’s a 30-day money back guarantee. This was a big factor for me in deciding whether or not to give it a try.

PACE Express workout DVDs with inspiring before and after photos

Pace Express workout DVDs

Pace Express workout DVDs (bonus DVD not shown)

You also get these tools for losing or maintaining weight

pace express tools for losing weight

Diet and exercise are both important elements in losing or maintaining weight, but diet is about 80 percent of the equation. These tools, included in the PACE Express package, will help you succeed with that:

  • Dr. Sears’ Gourmet Cookbook. Contains low glycemic recipes, meal plans and a glycemic guide for maximum fat loss
  • Kick Start Your Fat Loss in Just 6 Days. A six-day quick start nutrition plan. This is a very strict plan. Two of the days only allow leafy green vegetables and water.
  • 7 Steps to High Speed Fat Loss. An explanation why conventional diets don’t work and why we should eat an ancestral diet.
  • On the Go Nutrition Glycemic Index Pocket Guide. A handy guide for when you’re eating out.
  • PACE Express Calipers. A more accurate way of measuring fat loss.

Take a look at the PACE workout in action

Final evaluation of PACE Express

PACE Express workouts are suitable for everyone: men and women, young and old. You’ll notice your heart and muscles getting stronger. As time goes on, you can progressively increase the intensity of your workouts so that you never plateau or get bored. You can look forward to more flexibility, better balance, improved endurance and the satisfaction of keeping a commitment to yourself.

Buy Pace Express from Amazon

Learn more about why you only have to exercise 12 minutes a day

Visit PaceExpress.com to read the success stories, get more information on exercising 12 minutes a day and to order the PACE Express DVDs.

Less is more when it comes to cardio

Here are some articles if you’re interested in learning why HIIT or high intensity interval training, like PACE Express, is better than long duration cardio:

Brief Intense Exercise Better Than Endurance Training for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease prevention: long slow cardio or HIIT

Marathons may cause heart attacks

The lazy woman’s exercise: kettlebells

Photo credit: Girl Sunbathing by Petr Kratochvil

Photo credit: Girl Sunbathing by Petr Kratochvil

Let me tell you a little secret: I don’t like to exercise. In fact, I’m lazy, okay? I want to do the bare minimum. Does that sound like you too? So when I learned I could get a total body workout in only 15 to 20 minutes, I thought, this is something I can do and will do. And I’ve been doing it now for over two years.

I’m talking about kettlebells. Kettle what? Surprisingly, most people still don’t seem to know about them, even though they’ve been gaining in popularity in recent years.

This is a kettlebell

my 10 lb kettlebell by Iron Core

My 10 lb kettlebell by Iron Core

It’s a round weight with a handle attached. They’ve been popular with Russian bodybuilders for many years but were only introduced to America around the year 2000. Many celebrities have talked about using kettlebells.

The celebrity workout

Photo courtesy Photobucket.com user kain_020

Photo courtesy Photobucket.com user kain_020

These celebrities have been known to work out with kettlebells: Jennifer Lopez, Kim Cattrall, Penelope Cruz, Kim Basinger and Katherine Heigl.

In fact, it was seeing Katherine Heigl on TV talking about her kettlebell workouts that really piqued my interest: “It’s a mix of cardio and weight training but I only do it for 20 minutes twice a week and it’s changed my body shape.”

And that’s the key right there. It’s an efficient and effective workout because you train different body parts at the same time, and you really work up a sweat while doing it.

I’m not saying you’re going to look like Katherine Heigl or JLo (hey, it’s a kettlebell, not a magic wand), but you will be the best version of YOU that you can be.

What I like about using kettlebells

  • I like the simplicity of it: not having to drive to a gym, not having large pieces of exercise equipment cluttering up my house, and having just one small kettlebell I can tuck away in my closet.
  • I like feeling strong and having a body that’s flexible.
  • I like knowing that my bones are being strengthened as well.
  • I like having plenty of time to surf the web, talk to friends, watch TV and hang out with my dog

The basic move

The basic move in kettlebells is the swing. It looks deceptively easy but you’ll be working up a sweat in no time. To do the swing, stand with your feet about 12 inches apart. Hold the kettlebell with both hands and swing between your legs, aiming for your hips (swinging too low will cause injury).

As you’re swinging, bend your knees and push your hips back as if you were going to sit in a chair, then you pop your hips forward as you swing the kettlebell out in front of you while tightening your buns and abs.

The proper form is demonstrated in this video

There is only one right way to do the swing. Doing it wrong will put you at risk for injury. Watch this short video by Iron Core trainers to see the right and wrong ways demonstrated. The sound quality isn’t great, but it’s still worthwhile.

More about the benefits of kettlebell training by Sarah Lurie

Certified Russian Kettlebell Trainer and founder of Iron Core

An interview of Sarah Lurie by Vanessa Valiente on the benefits of kettlebell workouts and how popular they are with celebrities. You will also see some moves in action.

What you need for a kettlebell workout

I use and recommend GoFit kettlebells and workout DVDs.

Someone who has not been weight training should start out with a 10 pound weight. That’s the one I started with, then went to 15 pounds, and now I use a 20 pound weight.

When you buy a GoFit kettlebell, it comes with an instructional DVD that only shows you how to do the different moves. You’ll also need to get a separate workout DVD.

This four DVD set will take you from a beginner all the way to an advanced user.

Tips for sticking with your fitness program

You need more than willpower

Photo credit: motivation by Nono Fara, on Flickr

Photo credit: motivation by Nono Fara, on Flickr

These techniques have helped me stick to my fitness program for more than two years:

  • Find your motivation. Starting an exercise program is easy. Sticking with it is a lot harder. Think about what you want to accomplish and why. You should have both positive and negative motivations. For example, a negative motivation might be that you want to avoid getting osteoporosis like your mother. A positive motivation might be the good feeling you have wearing your skinny jeans.
  • Make an exercise schedule. Decide how many days per week you are going to exercise and what routine you will be doing.
  • Make a commitment to yourself. There will be times when you just don’t feel like exercising. We do lots of things we don’t feel like doing because they must be done. Not being in the mood is not a good enough reason to skip your exercise. When all else fails to motivate you, just do it because you promised yourself.
  • Record your accomplishments. When I’m done with my workout I mark it on the calendar. Seeing my accomplishments in writing makes me feel good.

My workout

I started off with three 15-minute workouts a week. Within a couple of weeks I was seeing great improvement and wanted to do more. That’s when I started working out with Sarah Lurie’s Iron Core kettlebell DVDs. I couldn’t even do all the reps at first but I would do as many as I could. Every day I was able to do more until it became quite easy and took less time. That’s when I would switch to a more advanced routine or get a heavier kettlebell.

As a middle-aged woman, I felt like I needed to do a little exercise six days a week. Three days a week I would do the longer “strength training” workout and the other three days I would do more aerobic-type workouts of kettlebell swings or an 8-minute Tae Bo workout. Now after reaching my goals, I maintain my results with six 10-minute workouts per week. I do the Kettlebell Express workout, with a 20-pound weight, on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I do kettlebell swings or an 8-minute Tae Bo workout. Saturday I rest.

Update: I’m still exercising six days a week, but I’ve switched up my exercise routine a little bit. Now I only do one or two kettlebell workouts and the other days I do 12 minute PACE Express workouts.

My results

Photo © 2012 Lynda Makara

Photo © 2012 Lynda Makara

It took about nine months to get fit with kettlebell workouts and healthy eating. Yes, it was slow (that’s the tradeoff for being “lazy”) but consistent. This was the only thing that worked for me (a postmenopausal woman in my mid 50s), and it will work for you too.