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View Full Version : Fractured ankle-How do I bounce back from this?



2fish&1whale
February 11th, 2011, 02:27 PM
I swim several times a week and the one day I decide to walk I manage to wipe out and break all three bones in my ankle.After surgery to put in plates&screws I'm now heading into week three of doing nothing.I've been told I'm looking at at least 8-10 weeks of some type of cast or boot,and who knows how much PT after that.Ironicaly I broke my other ankle when I was much younger and swimming was the only excersize I felt comfortable with.However,I now have much higher expectation from swimming then I did when I was 5-and I want to get back to what I was able to do before this accident.

Where do I start once I'm cleared for excersize?Do I try to do this on my own or find a specialist who works with athletes?I need to know that I will be able to rebound from this,and what to expect-but right now I'm just completely discouraged!:toohurt:

EJB190
February 11th, 2011, 02:54 PM
I have rebounded a few times from being completely out of shape, so I am sure you can do it.

1) Stopped swimming in middle school because my other sports took priority, started again in HS
2) Stopped after senior year due to pneumonia, and then a car accident involving broken ribs
3) In college after not being able to swim for a couple months due to a staph infection (left I nice hole in my body that had to heal)
4) I took the entire summer and fall of 2010 off, and now I'm back!

It's tough. You wanna just jump in and swim like you've always swam. Unfortunately your body doesn't work that way. You snooze you lose, use it or lose it. That said, the human body is remarkably adaptive and you'll definitely bounce back. You just have to be patient with yourself. Luckily swimming puts far less stress on your ankles than something that involves running.

Try to keep swimming with your broken foot leg out of the water :)

Good Luck!

200free
February 11th, 2011, 03:13 PM
My husband fractured his ankle last year, had plates and screws inserted, wore a cast then a boot for a long time. He went to physical therapy twice a week and eventually was cleared for riding the stationary bicycle and swimming. The physio was amazed at how quickly his range of motion improved once he started swimming. Well at first he was just sitting on the side of the pool with his leg in the water doing free kick. Later progressed to walking on the bottom in the shallow end of the pool and finally progressed to full swimming. That was the best way to gently increase his range of motion without injuring it. You can always do stuff like open turns or flip turns but only push off with the good leg until you feel comfortable enough that you won't hurt yourself pushing off with the bad ankle.

Have patience, it takes a while to recover from this but you'll get there. Sorry this had to happen, I'm sure it's been a painful period. Good luck with your recovery.

2fish&1whale
February 11th, 2011, 04:57 PM
My husband fractured his ankle last year, had plates and screws inserted, wore a cast then a boot for a long time. He went to physical therapy twice a week and eventually was cleared for riding the stationary bicycle and swimming. The physio was amazed at how quickly his range of motion improved once he started swimming. Well at first he was just sitting on the side of the pool with his leg in the water doing free kick. Later progressed to walking on the bottom in the shallow end of the pool and finally progressed to full swimming. That was the best way to gently increase his range of motion without injuring it. You can always do stuff like open turns or flip turns but only push off with the good leg until you feel comfortable enough that you won't hurt yourself pushing off with the bad ankle.

Have patience, it takes a while to recover from this but you'll get there. Sorry this had to happen, I'm sure it's been a painful period. Good luck with your recovery.
Thanks you for the advice and sharing your husbands experience!All i can remember from my previous ankle fracture was my utter fear of putting any weight onto my foot and not having much range of motion.How long did it take him to get back to 100%?

Lump
February 11th, 2011, 05:00 PM
As long as its okay to get wet (you don't have pins, etc) you can get in and swim with a buoy (and add paddles, snorkel). Obviously you'll have to do open turns and push off one legged.

As a kid (HS and younger) I swam with broken arm, stitches, cuts, etc....you learn what you can and can't do and coaches are GREAT at finding "something" you can do!

Karen Duggan
February 11th, 2011, 05:08 PM
I hurt my knee in 1997 (I think), and I cannot tell you how much swimming with Stretchcordz in the water helped. I had my own lane. I did all the same sets as everybody else, but I did them tethered to the wall.

For example, if we were doing 50s free... I know it takes me 14 strokes/lap. So I would push off and do 28 or 30 strokes and then return to the wall.

I think I hurt it in Feb and swam a life best time in May at Nationals (but I got DQd. That's another post!) I just tried to keep everything as normal as possible.

Good luck. :cheerleader:

rodon
February 11th, 2011, 05:42 PM
Getting back in the pool as soon as you can and having a good physical therapist who knows your goals will be a good place to start.

I broke my ankle this time last year and was non-weight bearing for 3 months. I too had a plate and pin in the ankle. I started weight training 2 weeks after the break and was in the water just pulling w/ a bouy 6 weeks after (my doctor was unaware of this btw). I had also done 3.5 months of PT.

You will find that as a swimmer you have better than average flexiblity in the ankle to start with and swimming as therapy, will help it heal even better. I swam in my first meet 4 months after the break.

You will be back at it soon enough and this will all be but a distant memory

swimmerb212
February 11th, 2011, 07:13 PM
I broke my ankle in three places as well, right around the same time I started swimming with Masters. I was out of the water for the month that I had the hard cast on, and then had a soft cast for another month. I think I got back in the water about two weeks after I was allowed to get the stitches wet. I might have gone earlier, but it was my right ankle, so I wasn't allowed to drive, and didn't know anyone who could give me a ride to practice.

I'm not going to lie: your time out of the water is going to suck. And when you get back, it's going to take some time. Make friends with your pull buoy. (I attribute my strong breast stroke pull to those weeks of only pulling.)

Also, do the PT, whenever you can. You may actually pick up some tips that improve your ankle flexibility over time. If you do have the pins removed, make sure you keep up with the PT after that. (This is a regret of mine.) There are so many doctors out there that are great with athletes, if you don't like the one you have, find a new one! Hope you're feeling better, and back in the water soon.

Even though I was totally out of shape, and couldn't kick at all, I remember how great that first swim back felt. After not being able to walk for weeks, swimming felt like flying. I'm also sure it helped with the healing process, being able to move my foot without putting weight on it. Hope you're feeling better soon!

Plantlady
February 11th, 2011, 08:52 PM
Ask your doctor how soon you can start swimming. I broke my ankle, admittedly a simply break with no surgery or setting, and he let me start swimming 2 or 3 weeks after I broke it (I was in a boot). But absolutely no weight bearing on land with out the boot (made it real fun getting in and out of the pool-you'll want to check out the access real carefully) and push off with the other foot. He told me I could walk in the water because it supports most of your weight. The reality was it was still another two or three weeks before I could actually kick with that foot (the pull buoy is your friend) but my kick did come back.

YMMV, you obviously have a much more severe break than I had. I also know some doctors are much more hung up about total immobility and fiberglass casts. The first doctor I saw put me in a cast and planned to keep my foot in one for about 6 weeks. I canned him because he was a first class a--hole. The second doctor said we can put you in a boot and I got brave and asked, "Can I swim?" and he replied "Sure". Try to convince the doctor what great therapy the swimming will be.

And my sympathies to you. This has to suck.

Jan

200free
February 11th, 2011, 10:50 PM
How long did it take him to get back to 100%?

His was very severe, he shattered and dislocated the ankle. It's been exactly a year and it still gets swollen when he stands on it for a couple of hours. I think he elevated and iced it for many months after surgery. He'll never actually get to 100% but he's probably at 95% strength and 85% range of motion right now. No running in his future but he can do everything else he wants.


utter fear of putting any weight onto my foot

That's where walking in the water comes in handy. You're a lot more buoyant in the water so can increase flexibility and strengthen your ankle without putting all that weight on your ankle.

swimshark
February 12th, 2011, 06:58 AM
I'm sorry to hear about your ankle. I am going on 3 years of a sprained ankle and still trying to heal it. You've gotten some great advice. Once you are cleared for PT, find one who specializes in athletes and has a goal of getting you back on your feet soon.

As for the water, once I got back in after my surgeries (I had 2 in 9 months) I started off with a lot of pulling and skulling. When I felt ready, I would do some light vertical kicking using water polo-type kick. Once I worked up to no pain with the vertical kick, then I started off with light flutter kicking on a board.

After months of this, I'm still slow but I'm kicking without pain (I'm now seeing a new doctor who has diagnosed me with impinged nerve and is injecting the nerve to deaden it and it's working!).

Good luck and tae it slow. Your arms will be your friend for a while and just go with that.

2fish&1whale
February 12th, 2011, 12:01 PM
Thanks all!Once again I'm realizing why Masters Swimming is special-because for everything that one could experience it is very likely that there are at least a couple of others that have been there-done that!
I have an app. in 2 days to remove staples and find out what type of cast I will get next and for how long.I'm cautiously optimistic that I will be cleared for driving so I could get to PT or my gym to work with a trainer on the other 3 limbs,but even if I'm not I will start working with weights or a stretch band at home.It has been shocking how quickly muscles break down when you do nothing....and I need my arm strength if I have to use crutches for another month!
Thank you for all the ideas and encouragement...things now don't look quite as bleak.

nkfrench
February 12th, 2011, 12:57 PM
Crutches can be a great aerobic and upper body workout. You might surprise yourself. :)

When I was sidelined by knee surgery, I stayed away from the pool until I was allowed at least some weight-bearing. A slippery wet pool deck + crutches is a bad combination.

2fish&1whale
March 16th, 2011, 01:59 PM
Wrapping up week 7 and I'm still in a cast,finaly weight bearing,but not able to swim-never thought I'd miss the stink of chlorine this much!:toohurt:

This whole experience has made me wonder-does 'swimming only' promote weaker bones due to it being non-weighbearing?

swimmerb212
March 16th, 2011, 02:03 PM
Wrapping up week 7 and I'm still in a cast,finaly weight bearing,but not able to swim-never thought I'd miss the stink of chlorine this much!:toohurt:

This whole experience has made me wonder-does 'swimming only' promote weaker bones due to it being non-weighbearing?

Congrats on making it this far! Doesn't it feel weird to learn to walk again? I kind of forgot what it was like the first time around...

I think that if you're doing some cross-training, you'll get all the bone development you need. Pepper in some jumping jacks and walking to your routine, and that should do the trick. Also, whatever physical therapy they give you, keep it up, even when you're feeling better! I regret not doing more after I got the hardware removed from my ankle. That second round didn't heal as well as the first.

Digging that new smiley, btw.

fmracing
March 16th, 2011, 02:24 PM
Thinking back to when I was in high school, we had a 50 free state champoin break something in his lower leg maybe a month or two before the state championship meet. He was, at the time, a contender going after the national 50 free record. I remember I had made the state meet that year as a pretty strong contender for a state title in his absence. I didn't pay attention to the heat before me (which he was in) but imagine my surprise on the medal platform to find out that he had beaten me with a cast on his leg. He went 21.8 in the 50y free with a cast... about a second slower than his state record at the time. If he could sprint that fast in a cast, i'm sure you could swim in one just to keep the endurance up. Casts are waterproof now aren't they?

jim thornton
March 16th, 2011, 02:30 PM
A lot of us use stretch cords for rotator cuff exercises. But there is a book on how you can use these for all kinds of exercises to stay in shape.

http://nirsa.humankinetics.com/showproduct.cfm?isbn=9780736054935

It sucks to have a wounded body part of any kind, but the ankle is not as bad as it could be since you can workout so much of the rest of your body without aggravating this.

Injuries closer to the core--hip, back--are more problematic because almost any exercise hurts!

I agree with what everyone says here. As soon as you can get back into the water, do so. Modify your activity so it doesn't inhibit your ankle healing, but lets you stay in the water and with your teammates (if you have any.)

Karen's idea sounded great to me.

Good luck. It truly does suck to be sidelined, but knowing that A) you don't have to be sidelined completely, and B) this will heal eventually, and you will forget which ankle was even broken, should help you deal with the psychological aspect of this, which is often, in my experience, worse than the physical injury itself.

2fish&1whale
March 16th, 2011, 02:51 PM
Thinking back to when I was in high school, we had a 50 free state champoin break something in his lower leg maybe a month or two before the state championship meet. He was, at the time, a contender going after the national 50 free record. I remember I had made the state meet that year as a pretty strong contender for a state title in his absence. I didn't pay attention to the heat before me (which he was in) but imagine my surprise on the medal platform to find out that he had beaten me with a cast on his leg. He went 21.8 in the 50y free with a cast... about a second slower than his state record at the time. If he could sprint that fast in a cast, i'm sure you could swim in one just to keep the endurance up. Casts are waterproof now aren't they?

I wish!
Have been given strickt instructions to keep this one dry-and swimming with a garbage bag on my leg just does not seem very practical!

When I first posted I had no clue how badly I managed to break things-finaly got to see an x-ray and its a good amount of hardware that I've been told will need to stay in.Unfortunately it also feels like I have quite a bit of nerve damage-so I can't really feel my foot,not sure how that will affect walking or swimming.

jim clemmons
March 16th, 2011, 02:57 PM
This whole experience has made me wonder - does 'swimming only' promote weaker bones due to it being non-weightbearing?

I don't know if you can call them "weaker" bones but I have read studies that have determined that swimmers and cyclists run a risk of less dense bone structures due to their choice of exercise, especially when not including weight bearing exercises to augment their preferred exercise routine.

swimshark
March 16th, 2011, 02:59 PM
Hang in there. The pool won't go anywhere and once you are back in, you will be surprised how fast you will get your strength back.

2fish&1whale
March 16th, 2011, 03:00 PM
Thanks Jim!I like the strech cord idea-I'll see if our AG team has one to borrow.Right now I'm sticking with free weights and strech bands....it's pretty pathetic to see how fast the muscle in the one leg broke down from non use!To know it took months if not years to build those breast stroke kicking thighs-gone in less than 2 month!

2fish&1whale
March 16th, 2011, 03:04 PM
I don't know if you can call them "weaker" bones but I have read studies that have determined that swimmers and cyclists run a risk of less dense bone structures due to their choice of exercise, especially when not including weight bearing exercises to augment their preferred exercise routine.

According to my sugeon I have soft bones-and I only swim 50% of the time!
It just makes me wonder for all those people who swim or deep water excersize exclusively-thinking they are sparing their joints while missing out on bone strenght.

swimlong
March 20th, 2011, 01:27 AM
when your cast is off and you can manage some water pressure on your foot (which will take a while) you might try pool running in the deep water - it can help get flexibility back and can be a great cardio workout.

Is there a reason you don't have a fiberglass cast that can get wet? Maybe b/c the pins can't get wet?

When I was recovering from ACL repair I did TONS of arm and core work. Boring but it cut down my getting-back-into shape time.

Hang in there; injury sucks but it's temporary!

2fish&1whale
March 21st, 2011, 02:17 PM
Is there a reason you don't have a fiberglass cast that can get wet? Maybe b/c the pins can't get wet?

It's fiberglass on the outside but it is completely lined with padding-possibly because of the screws and pins-and it would take forever for it to dry.
I looks like it's coming off friday-:ohyeah:!
I've got PT lined up for the following week-but my surgeon has a reputation for not believing in PT and I'm going to have to push to be cleared for it.I can't imagine trying to learn how to walk without PT!

jim thornton
March 22nd, 2011, 04:21 PM
Is there a reason you don't have a fiberglass cast that can get wet? Maybe b/c the pins can't get wet?

It's fiberglass on the outside but it is completely lined with padding-possibly because of the screws and pins-and it would take forever for it to dry.
I looks like it's coming off friday-:ohyeah:!
I've got PT lined up for the following week-but my surgeon has a reputation for not believing in PT and I'm going to have to push to be cleared for it.I can't imagine trying to learn how to walk without PT!

Your surgeon doesn't believe in PT?

Does he work for Faust Health Insurance Plans of Hades?

It sounds like he sold his soul to the company and is working for them, not you.