- Stairs. Since the aircast immobilizes your ankle and foot, there is a trick to going down or up stairs with your aircast.
- To descend stairs:
- rotate your body slightly, so that you are facing about 45 degrees towards your side that does NOT have the aircast on.
- take one step down at a time, leading with the leg that has the Aircast on.
- rotate your body slightly, so that you are facing about 45 degrees towards your side that DOES have the Aircast on.
- take one step up at a time, leading with the leg that does not have the Aircast on.
- General walking. An aircast adds a non-negligible amount of length to your leg, leading to a leg length discrepancy that can rapidly result in substantial back, hip, groin, and knee pain. I've discovered that a shoe with a 2 inch heel is the closest match.
(as an aside -- I'm going to be a bit sad when I take this off for good and return to my original height of 5'4", instead of the lofty 5'6" to which I have become accustomed).
Even after you even out the discrepancy, your gait will still be off -- the lower leg with the aircast is immobilized, meaning no flexion in the ankle joint, meaning that your knees, hips, and other ankle function in a modified way. You're going to have some pain somewhere, and there's no real solution to this, other than doing what you can to minimize your walking.
- Working out. You now have one of your two legs encased in a device that adds a) 2 pounds in weight to that leg; b) adds 4 inches in circumference to that calf; 3) makes that leg much less stable to balance on (both because the ankle is frozen and because the bottom of the aircast is designed like one of those silly MBT shoes).
These facts add a bit of difficulty to your gym workout. Obviously, anything that involves standing or balancing on one leg is out (i.e. squats, lunges). My philosophy has always been that free weights are best, but I've learned that there is a place for machines, and that's when you're injured. Some observations on individual exercises:
- For stuff like the abductor/adductor machine, or back raises, you can use a towel behind your good leg to balance things out -- effectively making your calves both the same width.
- For pull-ups, even if you normally do them without assistance, it's better to do them with some sort of machine assistance and just add more reps -- when you hang freely from your hands, the imbalance between your two legs makes you twist in an annoying way.
- IF your injury is in the foot, then you can still do planks and push-ups by removing your aircast and placing the tops of your ankles on a small exercise ball. I imagine you could do the same thing, but on your knees, if your injury is to your lower leg. Of course, make sure that you're stable and strong enough to do this without risk of falling, since you don't have the aircast protecting you.
- TMI. If you're a runner, then your aircast probably means you're in the pool. Do yourself a favor and invest in some spray Tinactin or something similar. Think about it: a) you're doing an activity in a very moist area; b) if your injury is to the foot, it's probably prohibitively painful to dry your toes thoroughly with a towel; and c) after you fail to dry your feet well, you place them into the same thing (the aircast) that you've been wearing for days now. I assure you, you'll thank me for this tip.
- Warm feet. Toes stick out of your aircast -- it's totally fine to wear a sock on the foot in the aircast to keep it warmer.
- Clean feet. If you're spending time in dusty/sandy places, it makes sense to get a plastic grocery bag to wear over the aircast (looping the top velcro strap through the bag handles). Yes you look stupid, but it's better than getting sand in the damn thing that you've got to wear constantly for the next few weeks.
- Arch support. Talk to your doctor to confirm, but in many cases, you can buy an arch support and place it in the aircast --your plantar fascia will thank you for this.
- Accessories. Your aircast comes with a pump to inflate it (after you've put it on) and deflate it (before you remove it). You need this pump (called a "bulb"), and you will likely lose it. Here's where you buy a replacement bulb. For that matter, you can also buy a replacement liner for your aircast there. Heck, you can even buy a replacement aircast, if things go really south.
- Perspective. Your life will be a lot happier if you learn to see your aircast NOT as something that keeps you from your normal life, but rather as something that enables you to live as much of your normal life while still protecting your healing limb.