I just hit the very last marker, at least of those outlined by my doctor, on the road to recovery from peroneal tendon repair surgery: the obsoleting of my ankle brace.
Ah, the ankle brace…annoying to get off and on, hard to fit into shoes, yet a reassurance and a necessity. Every time I’ve exercised over the last 14 months my brace has been there to restrict and support and now it’s no longer needed. Is that a call for celebration or a painful separation?
I wasn’t sure how my ankle would handle its brace graduation. After all, obnoxious as the brace was it did make me feel a little more stable and invincible. Would my ankle have separation anxiety after having such a constant companion for so long? Or worse yet, would this precarious advancement cause me substantial pain?
On my first run without the brace things felt amiss. Since I had not run brace-free for over a year the sliding motion of my ankle as I stepped felt unnatural and a bit disconcerting. It was like a screw holding my foot together had suddenly come loose; it didn’t hurt but it didn’t feel normal. Other than that the run was completely uneventful; my ankle handled the adjustment surprisingly well.
The day after that run a muscle in my bad leg was pretty achy from the top of my foot to mid-calf. My legs very rarely get sore thanks to years of being active (I wish I could say the same about the rest of my parts.) so I concluded that this muscle must be involved in controlling some of the movements my brace inhibited. Hence, it protested a little when it was returned to full duty.
Although my codependent ankle freed itself of the brace with minimal anguish it really didn’t gain full autonomy; it jumped right back into cahoots with another apparatus, one of its Xs. I wore a custom-made orthotic sole for a couple months before surgery in a futile attempt to appease my ankle without an operation, now that orthotic is back in my shoe and back in service. (Righty has been wearing its own orthotic since pre-surgery but the brace for lefty barely fit in my tennis shoe; there’s no way I could have squeezed in the brace and the orthotic at the same time.) According to my doctor, since I am at risk for further tendon damage I will have to wear that baby when I exercise indefinitely. My ankle acclimated to using it again pretty well; the arch in my foot hurt for a few runs but it was manageable.
I must admit that removing the brace from my routines went smoother than I had anticipated. There was no wailing or gnashing of teeth. My ankle didn’t cry, protests, or fall apart. A few strange sensations and a little discomfort were all that stood between me and a brace-free existence. Good job little ankle buddy! May all of you fellow ankle de-bracers fare as well!