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As I mentioned last week, I had a lot riding on my follow up appointment this past Monday. When I visited the doctor at week 4, I was crushed when I heard that healing had not started, and my foot looked more or less like it did on day 1. Well – that changed this week. I’ve taken significant steps forward, literally and figuratively.

Walking with training wheels: first steps in 7 weeks

Walking with training wheels: first steps in 7 weeks

The highlight of the appointment was finding out that the healing process has started. There is some soft callus forming, which is exactly what I wanted to hear – if that wasn’t the case, then surgery would have been the topic of conversation. Now that I’m healing, I’ve been cleared to bear up to 50% of my body weight when I “walk” on crutches.

The old fashioned way of gauging what it means to bear 50% of your weight is to step on the scale, apply less pressure on one foot, and wait for the number to drop down to half your body weight. Fortunately, we live in the future now, so I got to try something even better: an anti-gravity treadmill known as the Alter G.

The Alter G is simply an amazing piece of technology. It allows you to toggle between 20-100% of your body weight. Top runners use it not only for rehab, but for tacking on extra miles without the impact of conventional running. You pull on a pair of special shorts with a zipper around the waist, zip yourself into the Alter G harness, and an airtight seal forms; it’s remarkable.

My first steps were interesting to say the least. It was strange at first – mostly because I haven’t walked for 7 weeks. I felt very wobbly and off balance, but the harness was reassuring. Once I got going, I was able to ramp up from 2.5 mph at 20% of my body weight to 4.0 mph at 50% of my body weight with a 5% incline; it really gave me the confidence to walk with a normal gait pain free. There were a couple of points where I felt the injury and simply turned down the body weight; if only I could do that at mile 45 of an ultra. In case you were wondering, I did try to run at 20%, and immediately knew that it was not a smart idea.
If you’re experiencing pain or simply want to reduce the impact of running/walking, I would encourage you to check it out. You can find an Alter G near you on their website: www.alterg.com. I could also see it being a valuable training tool when I’m at 100% – especially if I’m ramping up for a 100 miler one day.
Turn down for what?

Turn down for what?

All this was great, but wait: it gets better. Remember when I mentioned that I was itching to get my hands on a bone stimulator? It turns out that a guy I know from the gym had one laying around. No big deal. He gave me the bone stimulator no questions asked, and now I’m using it 2x a day. The machine I’m using – the Exogen 4000, is FDA approved, and can heal fresh fractures up to ~40% faster. Although I don’t have a fresh fracture, there is really no downside to using the machine, and my orthopedist believes that it will shorten my healing time (he was non-committal when I asked him to estimate by how much).
Colleen's asking to try the Exogen 4000

Colleen’s asking to try the Exogen 4000

The bad news is that I’m looking at another ~4 weeks without walking on earth. I have a follow up on April 28th, and with a little bit of luck and some cooperation from the bone stimulator, I may be back on my feet at that point. In the meantime, swimming, Alter G, and biking in my boot makes for an interesting, futuristic triathlon of my own. Stay tuned!