February 13th, 2018

Limping along

The is the sixth day since I sprained my ankle, and I’m limping along.

Limping is tiring. It’s also not so great because it leads to other aches and pains. I realized today that when I walk I’ve got more pain in the calf above my hurt ankle than in the ankle itself, and I’m favoring that, which means my back is a bit out of whack and achy and so on and so forth.

You get the drill; no doubt it’s happened to you a few times. It’s not the worst injury in the world. In the scheme of things it’s pretty minor. But since my forms of exercise are limited by other old injuries, I walk fast for exercise, and I get very antsy when I can’t let out some energy that way. Blogging doesn’t quite do it.

Today as I was hobbling around I realized that one of the weird things about limping is that it disrupts a nearly-automatic and seamless mind-body connection. We learn to walk at such an early age that we very soon make it an unconscious coordination of timing and muscle and balance and manage to just stride along.

But just start limping and you may begin to question just how it is that people walk. Do I usually stand up straight? How do I usually bend my ankle and push off, and why can’t I do it now in that same way? After all, I’m not in excruciating pain. But my body is automatically protecting me (or is it my mind, or both?) from further pain and sends me gimping along in this herky-jerky way instead of the usual smooth flow I tend to take for granted.

Well, I’m not taking it for granted now.

21 Responses to “Limping along”

  1. Engineer Says:

    Hope you recover fully soon.

    If you want a prime instance of clumsiness, and a high risk of falling, just think about what you are doing as you climb up or down stairs.

    Or try to carry an almost-full container of liquid without spilling it, while concentrating on not spilling it.

  2. Old Curmudgeon Says:

    Try wearing work or army boots as soon as the cast comes off. This holds and supports the ankle, preventing any re injury and allows comfortable walking.

    I, an Old Curmudgeon, have been there.

  3. Frog Says:

    You are practicing the very, indeed exceedingly common art of self-diagnosis. There are other causes of calf pain. It would be well to complain to your doc not your blog, and maybe get an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot.

    Before ultrasounds, we used to check for a positive Homan’s sign, an iffy proposition especially with an ankle sprain superimposed.
    I mention that only for historical purposes!

  4. neo-neocon Says:


    I already went to the orthopedist the morning after I sprained. it.

    The calf pull is slight, and it’s a very familiar type and site of pain for me. I have no signs whatsoever of a blood clot; it’s very muscular and only happens when I stretch it a certain way, which happens to occur when I take one of my limping steps.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    Old Curmudgeon:

    Thanks, but there’s no cast. I didn’t break it. I have a softer ankle support thingy and an ace bandage, whichever I prefer. I had it X-rayed not long after the injury.

  6. Sven Says:

    Speaking of herky-jerky, there’s always this:

  7. Sharon W Says:

    Hope you are 100% soon, Neo. The “rest” part of R.I.C.E, can be a challenge, healing taking longer than desired. Just yesterday while driving with my 7 year old granddaughter, I pointed out a young woman walking along with a tight brace on her knee–no cane, no crutches. The way she was walking was sure to create all kinds of additional issues. Used it as a point of education for my little one. At this present time I am preparing for a 12 day tour in Israel come April. I suffer arthritis in both feet (the mid-top of the foot), and have developed awful bunions (truly deforming) in the last 3 years. Athletic shoes cause more distress than a mid-heal (something I discovered on our walking trip in Boston back in 2004) so I am putting a lot of thought into what shoes to bring. The ones I bought in France (made in Spain) will probably make the cut. Just ordered some Cole Haan leather wedges to break in. Vanity does enter into the equation as well since I do make some attempt at being fashionable. (I actually own over 80 pairs of shoes even though I’ve given away at least 30 in the last year.)

  8. n.n Says:

    Use a cane or crutches until the swelling subsides.

  9. steve walsh Says:

    I’m no doctor but have had my share of lower body and ankle injuries over the years from playing soccer. In my experience, if there is no bruising you didn’t tear anything. If so, you probably are well on the road to recovery and not likely to do any damage. Keep it wrapped snugly and try to walk as normally as possible and as much as your tolerance for the discomfort and pain will allow. Ibuprofen helps with that. Walking normally helps it continue to heal, will keep it from stiffening, and will minimize the other issues that come from walking in an odd and unusual (compensating) way.

    That’s the advice I’ve gotten from doctors over the years and it works. The other thing I’ve learned is that tendon and ligament strains are notoriously slow healing.

  10. neo-neocon Says:


    Don’t really have any swelling now. But cane or crutches are both very problematic for me because of my chronic arm problems.

  11. vanderleun Says:

    I’d suggest you watch this closely for exercise tips:

    The Ministry of Silly Walks –

  12. Frog Says:

    Did you have the calf pain the day (after the sprain) you went to the ortho, Neo? Even so, for the calf pain to be worse than the ankle pain itself is a signal to Rule Something Out, a venous thrombosis in this case. You do not say where in the calf (medial, lateral, or posterior midline) the pain is.
    An inflamed ligament of an ankle muscle can surely cause the pain. But so can other things!
    It is part of good care. If a test is negative, that does not mean it was unnecessarily done.
    You think there are no surprises in medicine? “Gosh, I did not think we would see this!” Happens all the time!

  13. Ymar Sakar Says:

    We learn to walk at such an early age that we very soon make it an unconscious coordination of timing and muscle and balance and manage to just stride along.

    Due to practicing Tai Chi, I’ve had to relearn normally autonomic motor functions such as walking and balance.


    It’s sort of like stressing the limits of the various small and large muscles when learning how to swim or ride a horse.

    As for sprains, now a days I use essential oil, specifically peppermint from PlantTherapy on Amazon. I cannot testify or support the quality of other oils and Doterra tends to be 2x more expensive, with a significant advantage in aromatherapy but not noticeably ingested oils or massage oil applications.

    A few drops of peppermint oil, mixed/diluted with sunflower or coconut oil or just water, on the sprained area each day or even more than that, should speed up regeneration by a factor of 3x.

    Wintergreen oil, used sparsely in the same fashion due to the acetic acid that is in asprins too (I don’t remember the exact chemical compound spelling), can also help with the pain management but the nerve and muscle regeneration is sub par compared to peppermint.

    But since my forms of exercise are limited by other old injuries, I walk fast for exercise, and I get very antsy when I can’t let out some energy that way.

    There’s no particular reason why physical therapy has to be in the gravity mass density field itself. You can just do it in the water or in bed, and walk on the air itself. It’s the same motor functions after all, just not the weight and thus joint stresses.

    There were many times where I could not obtain enough room for training, where I just used pure visualization or partial physical replication of movements, to practice various martial art techniques.

    In the Far East, which includes India, the village’s best warrior also tended to be their best doctor, as the two fields both required anatomical expertise and knowledge. Something not seen in the West often. The reason is pretty simple: injuries and accidents naturally occur in external and internal martial training, and an injured student might as well be a weak calf to the human predators of the world. Thus the only ones that tended to survive to become masters and acquire enlightened wisdom, were the ones who had access to a healer. The easiest way to do that in non urban settings, is to learn the craft yourself.

    These would be acupuncture to deal with pain and improve recovery rate from injuries.

    Massage techniques to increase recovery and nudge the body’s regeneration into solving problems which would require emergency surgery and medical prescription in the West. The Shaolin monks have many stories of sickly children being sent to them and after receiving the training, they obtain a far stronger constitution as a result. Some of these constitutions would appear superhuman to normal Western practitioners of medicine.

    The defensive application in H2H for anatomical knowledge is the ability to defend the organs and arteries and nerves from rupture, severance, and critical damage through dodging, evasion, and shielding. Plus nullification and force conversion.

    The offensive version is to attack the enemy’s. The healing application is to know which parts are damaged and how to recover them, such as joint problems.

  14. Waidmann Says:


    I know what you mean. I have two bad knees, and I often wonder how I used to walk. So I try–feet pointed straight ahead, slight spring in the step, arms hanging down slightly swinging, etc. Problem is, it hurts; so I walk a bit…different. Not sure how to describe it, but it is recognizable. I can spot someone walking towards me with the “old man walk”, and be right a lot more often than wrong if I asked him if he had bad knees.

    When you can’t walk “normally”, it can be hard to remember what “normal” is.


  15. ArmyMom Says:

    I have dealt with easily sprained ankles ever since high school where I played basketball and sprained something once a season. Now that I run, I am careful to run on smooth concrete because I simply don’t trust my ankles.

    Recently while on a long run with friends, I moved to the side of the sidewalk to make room for an oncoming runner and sure enough I managed to land on the side of the concrete and sprained my ankle. I was so mad about it that I got up and ran 5 more miles before my better sense made me finally stop. I was out of running for 6 weeks from that.

    During recovery, I was instructed to put my foot up and try to write my A,B,C’s with my toes to help keep my ankle flexible. If you are able to do that without pain, you can speed up your recovery a bit. Ice your ankle as much as possible if it swells. Good luck and hope you heal up soon.

  16. neo-neocon Says:


    My calf feels exactly as it has the many many other times I’ve strained it. It only hurts when I walk or stretch it, and it’s not severe. When I said the pain in the calf was worse than the ankle, I only meant while walking—carefully walking. My ankle hurts a lot more if I try to wiggle it. When I walk I don’t wiggle my ankle at all, and the pain is very minor, but if I try to rotate it the ankle pain is still quite intense.

    It was a multidirectional sprain: inside of the ankle and the outside. I landed on my own leg with it bent under me, and managed to injure my leg slightly as well. So the entire leg was slightly injured in the fall.

    I’m very lucky I didn’t break something.

  17. TommyJay Says:

    I had a modest outer ankle sprain many years ago. It got worse for a month, better for a month, and much worse for a couple months at which point it was puffed up. X-rays showed soft tissue damage and the orthopedist recommended high top shoes or boots and staying off it as much as possible.

    My experience suggests light duty for several months is the most helpful. Also, a little bit of ibuprofen is also great and can reduce inflammation.

    The ankle support thingy may or may not be as good as some boots or shoes. My wife discovered an expensive anti-pronation insole at a New Balance store that is much better than the expensive insoles her doctor created for her.

    Finally, while I hate spending money on health clubs and prefer to be outdoors, they do have some great machines there. You might consider an elliptical trainer where the sideways ankle motion should be minimized. Failing that, there are some pure arm exercising machines.

  18. charles Says:

    Get well soon!

  19. Gary D. G. Says:

    gittin’ older’s jes’ great
    n’est-ce pas?
    Feel better soon.

  20. AesopFan Says:

    “But just start limping and you may begin to question just how it is that people walk.”

    Back in grade school I learned a little doggerel poem (Ogden Nash?) that seems appropriate to the topic:

    A centipede was happy, quite,
    Until a frog, in fun,
    asked, “Pray, which leg comes after which?” —
    Which raised her mind to such a pitch
    she lay distracted in a ditch
    Considering how to run.

  21. Ymar Sakar Says:

    I’m very lucky I didn’t break something.

    A snapped ligament/tendon would require more than 3 months to recover back to walking, for a healthy regenerating body. More than 6 months to regain back most functionality.

    The medical terminology probably has a different definition for it, since it doesn’t actually separate completely, but tears. And the physical tear is loud enough that the user can feel/hear it as it happens.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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