No Excuses Fitness: Exercising with a Cast

As I continue to write my book No Excuses Fitness, I have included my experience with exercise and recovery from injury and surgery in this post.

Two years ago, while out walking my dogs, I fell and fractured my right hand. I was lucky only to have to wear a wrist brace so I could still use my fingers, but the pain and awkwardness of the brace hindered most of my activities and personal care.

Consistently engaging in leisure-time physical activity makes up part of my identity. The idea of not being able to walk, swim, go to the gym or ride my bike sets up high levels of anxiety within me. Not only do I want to maintain my fitness level, but I also want to keep weight off.

I admit I am a little addicted to exercise and its effects on weight loss, among other benefits. So of course, I went to the gym three days after I broke my hand. I figured I could still walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical since my legs were fine. I did not want to lose the progress I had made in my fitness journey.

After only 15 minutes on the elliptical, and not engaging my right hand, I was pouring sweat and feeling strange. I later shared this news with my daughter, an avid, 30-something Cross-Fitter, who admonished me for not resting. Our bodies use a LOT of energy to heal even a minor fracture. Feeling much better after a week, I went back to the gym and engaged in my usual workouts but in shorter durations. I was also able to carefully walk the dogs again, using my left hand to hold the leashes.

Two years later, my mindset toward physical activity hasn’t changed much. When I elected to have bunion surgery on my left foot in early June, I thought I went in with my eyes wide open. Having never experienced firsthand the mobility issues of using crutches or a knee scooter, I assumed I could gracefully and patiently handle the whole process of recovering from surgery.

It has been quite a journey. “Gracefully and patiently” are distant ideals.

As each day went by, I gradually got more energy. Most physical activities had to be done in the morning, as my foot would typically swell in mid-afternoon. This is the time when I would elevate my feet on my La-Z-Boy!

Here is a look at a week in my life post-surgery. Please note that light activity was approved by my doctor during my third week when the real cast was placed.

Walking the Dogs

With assistance, I found I could get my knee scooter outside, while someone wrangled the dogs. My small dog, Aero, walks well and I could attach his leash to the scooter handlebars, while someone walked alongside with Brodie. I went from walking 15 minutes to over 45 minutes, 2-3 days a week!

I keep my phone with me in case of photo ops!

sunflowers surrounded by blue
Sunflowers are seen on a walk around my neighborhood

Stationary Bike

I bought a used stationary bike I keep on the backyard deck, and 2-3 times a week I cycle for 15-20 minutes. The casted foot occasionally slips a little while pedaling, but most of the work is done with my right foot.

view from exercise bike
At least the view is nice!

Calisthenics, Strength Training, and Stretching

I keep a resistance band in my scooter basket. When the mood strikes, I do some simple resistance exercises for about 10 minutes. I also lie on the floor and gently work my abs and legs. Due to the cast and inactivity, my left thigh is now an inch smaller around than my right thigh! With my ankle immobilized within the cast, I know I have some work to do once it’s off.

Short Errands to the Store

Once the fourth week arrived, I was able to drive to nearby stores to run errands. Hubby showed me how to place the scooter in the back of my SUV, which takes some maneuvering. It’s lightweight, so it is easy to lift in and out of the car. Just doing this much and rolling around the grocery store takes energy and time. I discovered last week I can pull a cart with one hand while riding the scooter, but I save the big trips for hubby.

Backyard Gardening

Plumeria sprouting

To get into my backyard, I need to use the crutches. Our deck has three steps into the backyard, so the scooter does not work. My plumerias and sunflowers need water daily while the rest of the plants and flowers need water every other day in our Northern California 90+ degree heat. Some gardening projects will have to wait until I am back on both feet.

My two proudest achievements this summer! My first pink plumeria bloomed yesterday, a huge surprise since it can take up to three years for cuttings to bloom.

My first plumeria
First plumeria

Last year I planted sunflowers to photograph and enjoy. Once I saw this type, a Tall Sungold, aka Teddy Bear, I just had to have one. A blogger friend sent me some of his seeds from his harvest!

Close-up of TeddyBear, aka Tall Sungold

I take photos of the sunflowers and plumeria almost every day. Have you ever tried to hold a cell phone with two fingers while using crutches? I knew I should have bought one of those Velcro pouches made for crutches while I was at the medical supply store in San Diego!

Getting Back to Normal

Looking forward to when the cast comes off in a few days, I may end up wearing a walking boot for a while longer, which is OK since I can remove it. From this point, I plan to swim and do some aqua aerobics and water walking at the gym swimming pool, along with using the elliptical again. I’m also looking forward to my Friday or Saturday morning yoga classes too!

The key is to resume physical activity gradually. Complete recovery from bunion surgery can take up to one year, due to mild residual pain and swelling!

I’m excited about getting back to the delta for our summer weekends where I can kayak and ease into stand-up paddling’ but I think I will put off windsurfing until next season!

I know that my recovery will be slow, but I have an entire month before I’m back in the classroom.

Was it worth it? I’ll let you know in a few weeks! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the scooter ride with me today.

This post is inspired in part by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk, How to Exercise with A Cast and Becky B’s Blue July Squares.

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56 thoughts on “No Excuses Fitness: Exercising with a Cast

  1. Good work! Inspired, if you have imagination & don’t care what people think, you can always exercise. e.g. I do sprints on the way home from dropping the kids off at school; people think I’m nuts!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Terri, Camping and no cell and want to catch up with you and your progress. I know your book will do well since you know first hand many of the challenges recovering from injuries. I do get it with fitness, weight and managing stress. You bring up a great point on requiring a great deal of energy to heal. Your photos are stunning! I am behind in my reading, so I hope more improvement over the past two weeks:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Erica, hope you are enjoying camping and being unplugged. We got out to our delta campground this last weekend. I wore the boot around the uneven grounds which helped. I bought some good candles that are surprisingly supportive. What I didnt account for was the heat contributed to more swelling of my foot and ankle. Slowly but surely, getting better every day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So, by now, since I’m late commenting again, your cast is off! Yay!

    It’s amazing how determined you are to keep up your exercise and fitness level, Terri. I think most injured people (including me) would see that as an excuse (yep, you chose a good title for your book) to take it easy and be lazy. Oh, the things I could do and catch up with if I were to be bed or chair-bound! 🙂

    By the way, exercising has never worked addictively for me. I must not be doing it right!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I’m wearing a boot when needed (when I go outside). Lots of swelling around my ankle, and a little pain when walking but it’s to be expected. I’m back to walking my dogs (slowly) and my exercise regimen will consist of water walking and stationary bike for a while. I can’t do without it, Liesbet!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Shades of Blue | The life of B

  5. Dang, Terri! You are such an inspiration! I think I’m going to need to heed your words a little more closely. We’re finding that this van is getting us out and moving more than we have in months! (You don’t realize how much you unintentionally slow down!) We’re going to need to step up our fitness game so that we can keep exploring! Thanks for the motivation! ~ Lynn

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think I’m slightly obsessed, Lynn! But I NEED exercise. I just got the walking boot yesterday and walked on it with both dogs this morning (before the ungodly heat began). It works but I’m slow! Maybe to get you outdoors more, grab your phone/camera and look for photo ops.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Capelas, Sáo Miguel- not quite a Monday walk | restlessjo

  7. Seriously impressed and inspired by your ability to stay active in a cast. Great to hear the cast is coming off in a few days …and that you are writing a book ‘No Excuses Fitness’. I’m looking forward to reading it. Your floral images are simply magnificent, especially the sunflowers. And I loved the images of you scooting about!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow- glad you are doing so well Terri. I broke my elbow years ago and was frustrated by the lack of exercise, but used what I learned in Physical Therapy 3 days a week and eventually incorporated it into my gym routine when I was able to get back to the gym. It took a long time to really resume a normal routine, but doing something rather than nothing was better mentally and physically.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my gosh, Lisa, that sounds like quite the pain, but you are so right about “doing something.” I know that I have to take it slowly, after all my foot has been in this same position for 8 weeks. I’m sure they will give me some exercises, too.

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      1. I was very proactive in getting better. My arm would not bend because I was casted for 3 weeks which they usually don’t do but had to in my case. It didn’t bend for 3 months, even with PT 3 times a week. Finally it began to show signs of movement.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Terri, this post is inspiring me. I just found out that I will be having knee replacement surgery in November, two days after we get back from our daughter’s wedding in Jamaica. I had my other knee replaced a few years ago, and then I didn’t have time to plan and prepare and I was physically exhausted and my entire body was inflamed. It was months of pain and rehab. This time I am going to try to plan so that I can best handle it and literally get back on my feet quickly ( 0kay quickly as in 6-8 weeks!). I love the idea of getting an exercise bike for home because I will not be able to drive to the gym. I also need one of those little bags to attach to my walker! I love your idea of the exercise bands so that I can do what I can do. If you have any other suggestions I am all ears!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Michele, I can share some resources with you. I’ve done quite a bit of research for my book and there should be some useful ideas. I’m so sorry to hear that you need another knee replacement. At least you can plan and if I know you, Google will be your friend as you research your recovery options. Go out or online to a medical supply store and see the cool accessories they have available for us aging boomers! I already bought myself a sturdy boot/sandal to use in case my doc doesn’t send me home with one! You got this, girl!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s been quite a while since I posted in my blog. I still listen to music all the time and have some playlists to share. I’ve been very busy working on an iOS app (My Diabetes Meals), my son broke his ankle, my Mom died (4 days short of 99), and just got out of the daily habit. I need to get that going again.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh my gosh, you have had a lot thrown at you, Doug! I do love your playlists and look forward to more of yours. My condolences for your mother, 98 years, wow! I’ve seen some of your meals on IG, sounds like you are doing quite a bit of research!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Candi Randolph

    I am impressed with your tenacity and motivation, Terri. I’ve been so fortunate to have avoided spills, falls and surgeries up until now, and hopefully that will continue. But, I’m pinning your post for others to benefit from, and if it becomes my reality in the future I’ll know what to do!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Terri you’re such an inspiration for those of us who are less exercise conscious. I’m nowhere near as fit as you, but I’m well aware of how quickly my body would slow down if I had a limiting injury like yours. It was inttersting to read how you’re handling it and the process and physical limitations behind your recovery – and most of all, the idea of not giving in and sitting on your butt for weeks while the weight creeps and and the muscle tone creeps down.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awe, thanks, Leanne! I have worked so hard to lose weight so I don’t keep wrecking my knees and feet. I went into surgery fit since I had time to prepare, which was common sense to me. I managed to keep my weight the same for those two months, but it wasn’t easy.

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  12. mommyhon333

    Bless your heart. Is your bunion-less foot in a lot less pain now, or not yet? I have something going on with my right foot but would really hate to be sidelined for long. This has been a long journey it seems. But I am glad you have found ways to get out and about, to get some exercise without overdoing it. I broke my foot a year ago in January. Didn’t go to the doctor for a couple of weeks and not until I had taken a 4 mile walk and been pretty miserable. Certainly hope you don’t take a full year to heal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Leslie! There really is very little pain, but I’m told to expect some mild pain and swelling for a few months. There are so many little bones in our feet, I hope your doc can figure out what is going on. I do not tolerate foot pain well, but I’m sure the healing will take its time. Until then, I will be careful!

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  13. Hi Terri you would have been the perfect ‘client’ for one of my assignments in my Fitness Certificate. I have to design a program for someone who is disabled or injured and I’ve found some ideas through your experience. Good for you in getting out there despite your cast and as always your sunflowers bring me joy. Thanks for sharing your experience with us at #MLSTL and you certainly don’t let anything get in your way of living life to the full. I’m inspired 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Heck, Terri, you sound like Wonder Woman! I’ve been sitting on our roof terrace with a book for the past 2 hours. It’s pretty warm here too, and my preferred exercise is walking at the beach. That definitely wouldn’t work with your scooter. I’m amazed at how very many adaptations are available these days. Good for you! And many thanks for linking. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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