Getting around on elbow crutches non weight bearing

My bag is my friend with crutches

Crutches are not as easy as they look

Let me start by saying that crutches are hard.  You, like me, give up our seats for people on public transport but I hadn’t fully appreciated how difficult it actually is to get around on crutches.  I keep thinking about how others seem to zoom by and hope that maybe with practice I will be too.  I mean look at this guy:

The lesson learned “Don’t go too hard too soon”

Well, let’s just say I didn’t follow that advice.  I signed up for a half marathon. It was for a good cause: We raised £1000 For Jimmy!

From zero physical activity, I was in week 5 of a 10-week half marathon training plan that involved 4 runs a week.  What could go wrong hey?  I also made the decision to not bother getting new runners.  My runners from 5 years ago looked pretty good still.  Oh, and I didn’t bother stretching or cross training…

If you are considering doing the same, don’t! Read these first:

Overtraining = Stress fracture of the tibia

It was after I did my 10-mile run that my leg started hurting.  I was a bit ambitious that day and ran to the O2 in sleet.  It was not fun.

My ‘Easy’ Sunday training run in sleet in short sleeves (Runkeeper)

That week it hurt to do the school runs so I went to see the physio.  She then referred me to a specialist and I got an MRI scan.  He said

Do not run the half marathon (3 times)

Unfortunately, I didn’t do the best listening to his advice.

So I thought maybe if I strap it I can do it anyway?

Thinking all I needed to do was get my leg strapped for the race
Thinking all I needed to do was get my leg strapped for the race

I got my MRI results the day after the half marathon…

Big Half Marathon – Yes I am a crazy fool and did it anyway!

Leaving for the big half 2018 at 6am
The crazy person leaving for the big half 2018 at 6am with a stress fracture

Let’s just say it was hard. I started the race thinking “I was born to do this!!”.  3 miles in I was thinking “What the heck am I doing? How will I get to the end”.  I had to keep stopping and walking bits and every mile marker just reminded me of how many more miles I still needed to finish.

The moment I saw my family and the finish line
The moment I saw my family and the finish line. I was so happy!

We did it! No PB for me 2:23 and I was a hobbling mess after.  All I wanted to do was get home and onto my couch.

Monday I saw the consultant who had told me three times not to do the race earlier.  And let me know that I had a stress fracture of the tibia.  He also let me know I needed a brace and crutches for 6 weeks. And that I would not be allowed to put any weight on my leg for at least 4 weeks. That sounded not great.

Non-bearing weight (NBW) crutches

Sitting in the hospital reception willing myself to get up and make my way home in crutches
Sitting in the hospital reception willing myself to get up and make my way home on crutches

I didn’t appreciate how bad it was going to be until I had the brace on and got on the crutches.  Remember how I mentioned the zero physical activity prior to running?  Well, this means that I am not awesome at baring my weight with my upper body on one leg.  Getting home from the hospital felt more mentally challenging than the half marathon.  Using doors, wheelchair lift which doesn’t have automatic doors??? Hopping to the bus stop, getting on the bus and having to get up a step as no one moved, then hopping from bus stop home. I was glad to be home once I got there.

Week 1 on crutches

Getting home that afternoon I realised there was no way I would be able to pick up my children from their schools.  With one child at school and the other at playgroup and school afternoons, I had to do a spreadsheet to work out logistics. I am thankful that I have wonderful friends and childminder who have been able to help with all the drop offs and pick ups <3

Some tips I’ve learned so far when using crutches:

  • Don’t try to overdo it
  • Ask and accept help
  • Bags are handy for carrying things around
  • Just bum shuffle up and down stairs if you have to
  • Have a chair in the kitchen
Demonstrating the bum shuffle on stairs with crutches
Demonstrating the bum shuffle on stairs with crutches

Week 2 on crutches

It is still hard to get around.  I was going to try and take my daughter to school (170m) but after being up since 6 am and moving around I gladly accepted a friend’s offer to take her.  I am hoping to go to her school on Wednesday for her performance.  Hope they’ll be a seat!

I’m just at the start of week 2 of 6 and hope this gets easier. Thankfully I work from home.  I don’t know how people commute on crutches??

Woohoo! I can now comfortably make one school run (170m / 0.1 miles).  Was going to attempt the other school run (640m / 0.4 miles) but maybe that is too ambitious (I chickened out!).  I wonder if it is ambitious or doable. Will have to be brave on the weekend.  Although snow predicted not sure I will want to.

Also managed to hop down the stairs – oh yeah much better than the bum shuffle. Happy days.

Week 2 tips on using crutches:

  • Be brave and try the stairs on crutches. It’s much easier. I’ve been practicing on a small set in the house (I do majority on bum still).
  • Accept is is pretty rubbish and focus on positives. Maybe I’ll end up with some kick-ass arms – haha!

Week 3 NWB Crutches

This week I did the short school runs to practice and easily done now. Whoop!  I also attempted the longer school run but aborted 3/4 there. Was still a 25-minute workout on the crutches.  Was completely knackered after. I made myself do school the short school run that afternoon.  Cake sale walk and queue was painful.

Was all worth it though as on Friday I took the kids to the park. Hurrah! And even went shopping on the weekend.  My longest session on crutches so far.  My son has been giving me the guilts about not taking him to school and concluded I now have no excuse.

Week 3 tips on using crutches:

  • I bought this bar stool from Argos. The most uncomfortable chair – don’t bother.
  • It will still be a bit shit being on crutches. I can not wait to be off them
  • You’ll be surprised how much better you get
  • If it’s safe to try, do a push-up – how easy is that now?!

Week 4 NWB crutches

Hoping I will be a pro on crutches!  And be able to take Ethan to his playgroup and school which are further away…

Week 5 holiday in Cotswolds

Haha, it was going to be a walking holiday!

Week 6 my in-laws arrive

I was already looking forward to seeing them.  I CAN NOT WAIT!

They lied to me.

Well maybe decided not to tell me that it would actually be 12 weeks or more on crutches. I found out that it would be another:

  • two weeks at 25%
  • two more weeks at 50%
  • two more weeks full weight

Hang on a minute. That means another 6 WEEKS ON THESE CRUTCHES (I might’ve cried).

This week which was supposed to be finally full weight has now become not that. So disappointed. I am hoping my scan on Friday will be good news.

I know I just need to suck it up. There is a lot worse. *Positive thoughts*

Good news!

The scan showed all healing well. Hurray! Physio exercises now equate to an hour routine. Joined a gym and started exercise bike to build up strength again.

Managed to make another trip to Cotswold and this time it included some walks. Happy days.

Have you been on crutches?  Please tell me your tips!

Send me a tweet: @teresahunteruk #crutchtips