Being on crutches can be a blow to anyone, let alone the runner, who makes it a habit of travelling anywhere and everywhere on leg power alone. It feels as if your whole world has imploded as a trip to the kitchen let alone the bus stop becomes a daily mission. And it is a challenge, a bloody difficult and emotional one at times but what would life be if it didn’t test us?
As someone who is currently moving around via two sticks while sporting a rather fetching air boot (if only Chanel did air boots), I’ve pulled together top tips or injured runners on crutches.
Ask the right questions
Especially if you are unfortunate enough to be treated by the NHS. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I live in a country where they offer free medical care but when it comes to priorities, someone with a life-threatening illness is way more important. When you’re actually injured, however, it can feel extremely frustrating to understand or comprehend this.
After diagnosis at the hospital, I was handed an air boot, crutches and told to come back to hospital in two weeks. The shock of the situation meant I couldn’t think of simple questions such as “do I have to wear the boot to bed?” or “will you give me another MRI scan or this visit, which will take up quite a lot of time out of my day, will be pointless?” In an ideal world, they would offer up a top 10 FAQ list but that’s just another task for the hospital to think about.
Make sure you have a list of questions or you’ll be calling them every time they pop into your head which again can be time-consuming, stressful and involve you being passed between departments on the phone when you call them up at lunchtime.
Google “chair exercises” and then ask someone to video you doing them
Face facts, unless you’re someone who regularly works your upper body, the first few days (hopefully) are going to be tough. You will spend a lot of time sitting on your bottom. That doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. After my last blog post, the lovely Georgina from @fitcetera suggested I google “chair exercises”, which I did and found a few videos. I’m planning to review these videos in the next few weeks so keep an eye out. Anyway, I thought it might be motivating to ask my partner to video me. Here is the result:
Focus on what you can do
Don’t be defeatist. You have to keep strong physically to be strong mentally. As well as chair exercises, eat well, add weights to your seated workouts and spend time working on your core muscles. This will help with stability on your crutches and also stop you from becoming a flump. There I said it – flump. You know those marshmallow things which have a squishy consistency. Prevent yourself from turning into a flump by focusing on what you can do.
Customise your crutches
By customising I don’t mean wrapping them in pink fur or decorating them in glitter, I’m simply pointing out the fact that I have found the plastic hand grips dig into my palms, making it uncomfortable when I push my body weight down on them. Instead of suffering in silence, I grabbed one of the many sweat towels lying around in our linen cupboard (thanks Wahoo), a pair of scissors and something every runner should have an ample supply of (safety pins) and crafted softer hand grips. Pain be gone in my hands at least.
You may think your life as you know it is over but it’s not. Go out, even if it is to your local Budgens via a bus ride, make sure you head outdoors at least once a day. And do it with childish enthusiasm taking selfies on the way. Remember how exciting bus journeys were when you were a child (surely it wasn’t only me) and just be grateful that you can take those small steps towards the supermarket. Then order your partner (if you have one) around the supermarket, using your crutches to point at various things on the shelves that you need (ho ho ho).
After these small adventures, you’re way less likely to wallow in self-pity and simply feel more positive about the journey ahead.
Use it to justify why you own so many rucksacks and potentially need more
You’ll soon find out why that Longchamp shopper is the wrong method to transport all your stuff to work. Instead use one of your trusty rucksacks. Or buy a new one then justify it by saying the others were simply too sporty, not smart enough honey for me to be taken seriously at work. For the record, I wouldn’t say no to a rucksack by Alexander Wang or Sophie Hulme.
Thankfully the military trend is having a resurgence for spring/summer 2016, which means pockets to put your money, cards, keys and phone. This will make it easier than a handbag to find anything you need when you do go out and about. And even if you’re reading this further on down the line, leave your favourite arm candy (or purse if you’re Stateside) at home. Think about wearing a coat or jacket with pockets to ensure you have easy access to everything you need.
Master the stairs
Don’t let those dastardly stairs stop you from exiting the building. If you live somewhere in a lift then lucky you, otherwise take your time to work out a method that enables you to move swiftly from one level to another. I’m not quite there but am working on it.
Get a sweat on
There’s no denying that crutches are well, put simply, ruddy horrible to use but think of any journey in the same way as a marathon. It can be painful, mentally challenging but you’ll feel rewarded once you crossover the finishing line. Take it one step at a time. Swing yourself through the crutches and concentrate on what a great upper body workout you’re doing. Wave goodbye to bingo wings and hello to sculpted arms for summer.
It is was it is. Moping will not get you anywhere so try and be as positive as you can. Ask your social media illiterate partner to “Boomerang you” and smile in glee at his reaction. It’s the little things…